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Streaming television


Streaming television (also known as streaming TV, online TV, Internet TV, or TV streaming) is the digital distribution of television content, such as TV shows, as streaming video delivered over the Internet. Streaming TV stands in contrast to dedicated terrestrial television delivered by over-the-air aerial systems, cable television, and/or satellite television systems.

Smart TVs took over the television market after 2010 and continue to partner with new providers to bring streaming video to even more users. As of 2015 smart TVs are the only type of middle to high-end television being produced. Amazon's version of a digital media player, Amazon Fire TV, was not offered to the public until 2014. These digital media players have continued to be updated and new generations released. Access to television programming has evolved from computer and television access, to also include mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Apps for mobile devices started to become available via app stores in 2008. These mobile apps allow users to view content on mobile devices that support the apps. After 2010 traditional cable and satellite television providers began to offer services such as Sling TV, owned by Dish Network, which was unveiled in January 2015. DirecTV, another satellite television provider launched their own streaming service, DirecTV Now, in 2016. In 2017 YouTube launched YouTube TV, a streaming service that allows users to watch live television programs from popular cable or network channels, and record shows to stream anywhere, anytime. As of 2017, 28% of US adults cite streaming services as their main means for watching television, and 61% of those ages 18 to 29 cite it as their main method. As of 2018, Netflix is the world's largest streaming TV network and also the world's largest Internet media and entertainment company with 117 million paid subscribers, and by revenue and market cap.

Considering the popularity of smart TVs and devices such as the Roku and Chromecast, much of the US public can watch television via the Internet. Internet-only channels are now established enough to feature some Emmy-nominated shows, such as Netflix's House of Cards. Many networks also distribute their shows the next day to streaming providers such as Hulu Some networks may use a proprietary system, such as the BBC utilizes their iPlayer format. This has resulted in bandwidth demands increasing to the point of causing issues for some networks. It was reported in February 2014 that Verizon is having issues coping with the demand placed on their network infrastructure. Until long-term bandwidth issues are worked out and regulation such at net neutrality Internet Televisions push to HDTV may start to hinder growth.

Some companies pay very large amounts for broadcasting rights with sports and US sitcoms usually fetching the highest price from UK-based broadcasters. A trend among major content producers in North America is the use of the "TV Everywhere" system. Especially for live content, the TV Everywhere system restricts viewership of a video feed to select Internet service providers, usually cable television companies that pay a retransmission consent or subscription fee to the content producer. This often has the negative effect of making the availability of content dependent upon the provider, with the consumer having little or no choice on whether they receive the product.

With the advent of broadband Internet connections, multiple streaming providers have come onto the market in the last couple of years. The main providers are Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Some of these providers such as Hulu advertise and charge a monthly fee. Other such as Netflix and Amazon charge users a monthly fee and have no commercials. Netflix is the largest provider; it has over 43 million members and its membership numbers are growing. The rise of internet TV has resulted in cable companies losing customers to a new kind of customer called "cord cutters". Cord cutters are consumers who are cancelling their cable TV or satellite TV subscriptions and choosing instead to stream TV shows, movies and other content via the Internet. Cord cutters are forming communities. With the increasing availability of video sharing websites (e.g., YouTube) and streaming services, there is an alternative to cable and satellite television subscriptions. Cord cutters tend to be younger people.