Receiving International TV

How Do Audiences Watch International TV?

International TV channels are broadcast live across Europe and the globe using a variety of technologies, including cable, satellite and terrestrial networks. Increasingly, other broadcast techniques are being used, including IPTV and digital channels such as mobile apps. Individual households may receive one or more methods and international TV channels can often be received in several platforms. The major trend now is towards digital TV as most countries have completed the switchover from analogue.

Satellite TV

  • Satellite TV is television delivered using communications satellites to relay signals from broadcasters to consumers.
  • Consumers require an outdoor antenna (a satellite dish) and a receiver, either in the form of an external set-top box or a television with a built-in satellite tuner module.
  • Advantages for consumers include a wide range of channels and services, often to areas that are not served by terrestrial or cable providers.
  • In Europe in 2013, 35% of households received some form of satellite broadcast.

Cable TV

  • Cable television is TV distributed to subscribers using cables connected from a service provider to their houses or apartment blocks.
  • Most cable TV services are paid-for services and require an adapter (set-top box or cable converter box) supplied by the cable provider.
  • As TV signals use only a portion of the bandwidth available for customers, other digital services such as cable internet and telephony are available to consumers.
  • In Europe in 2013, 27% of households received cable TV.

Terrestrial TV

  • Terrestrial television is a type of television broadcasting which uses radio signals for transmission and television antennas and tuners for reception.
  • The volume of services available to consumers through terrestrial reception methods has seen an increase since the worldwide move from analogue TV broadcasting to digital began in earnest in the 2000s.

Other formats

IPTV: Consumers use their internet connection to stream TV content to their televisions.
  • IPTV services include live TV as well as video-on-demand and catch-up services.
  • Services require high bandwidth, such as a broadband internet connection.
  • A closed, proprietary network is used to stream content, guaranteeing a high quality of service. This is different to the more cost-effective OTT (see below) which relies on available bandwidth through a consumers own internet connection.
  • In Europe in 2013, 9% of homes received IPTV services.
OTT (Over-the-top) services also use the internet to deliver content, like IPTV.
  • OTT services do not have a separate ecosystem like IPTV. Any internet connection can be used and service quality is not the responsibility of the content provider.
  • Services are often offered free of charge or at a relatively low cost to consumers.
Smart TV (also known as a connected TV): A television set or set-top box with integrated Internet services.
  • Smart TVs run on operating systems which provide a platform for broadcasters to develop applications (apps) through which TV content can be delivered.
  • As with OTT, any internet connection can be used to access these services.

Digital Switchover

In Geneva in 2006, an agreement was brokered by the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency that develops communications standards and allocates radio spectrum and satellite orbits. A total of 116 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa committed to making the switch from analogue TV transmission to digital-only by June 2015. Most other countries across Asia and the Americas have set targets to fully switch to digital by the end of that year. Digital TV has a number of advantages, such as expanded services and higher quality video and audio. It also increases efficiency in transmission, which means more channels can be received by consumers.
Digital Penetration Highlights: