Hard-fought competition between streaming heroes: For the first time, test and technology magazine video finds the most reliable providers.

Nowadays, it is also possible to watch TV over the internet. That’s nothing new. However, the range of offers and the diversity are growing from day to day. Which of the providers fare particularly well and which are trailing the field?

video, Germany’s leading test and technology magazine for TV, home cinema and surround has conducted a comprehensive test that takes a closer look at the critical factors. Together with the renowned network testing institute zafaco, the DSL-based IPTV offers Telekom EntertainTV, Vodafone TV and 1&1 “DigitalTV provided by Telekom” as well as the most popular web TV services Amazon Video, Facebook, Netflix, Vimeo and Youtube were comprehensively tested over a four-week period. Zafaco determined the average values for video and transmission quality across a mix of all the tested access lines from Telekom, Vodafone, 1&1, Unitymedia and O2 through to regional network services such as M-Net, Netcologne or EWE. These results, gathered for the first time, provide a deep insight into the technical quality of the providers and ultimately the added value for viewers. And video will put IPTV and web TV providers to the test in future as well.

A fight for limited resources

The internet has become established as a fully-fledged transmission channel for video content. Providers such as Telekom, Vodafone or 1&1 offer TV transmission via internet protocol (IPTV), for example, which can be used to watch classic TV stations. These compete with streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video or Netflix, as well as video content platforms like Youtube or Vimeo. Ultimately, all providers are fighting for the same thing: viewers’ favour, available data rates and any priority rulings on the internet.

The performance of the service providers’ servers and how well they are connected to the internet providers’ distribution networks are particularly decisive factors, because these determine the picture and sound quality in the viewers’ own four walls. In the case of IPTV services, the performance of the set-top boxes also plays a decisive role.

Telekom lead the pack and surprise in web TV service

In contrast to the usual tests conducted by video, which focus on the breadth of content offered by IPTV and Video-On-Demand, the current test primarily focuses on the technical quality of IPTV and Web TV. The clear winner among the IPTV services is the new EntertainTV platform from Telekom. In a technical comparison, it is similar to Vodafone TV, but wins hands down in the area of operation and offering. However, in the locations where their offers are available, Vodafone and 1&1 also provide customers with high quality and attractive content.

The biggest surprise is the result for the streaming services. The comparison shows: the more popular the service, the greater the risk of lower quality caused by overload. Amazon are far better able to cope with extremely high demand than Netflix. However, these two providers are clearly ahead in terms of offered content and operation. In comparison, Facebook, Youtube and Vimeo are poor or satisfactory and trail the field in these areas. However, these last three providers impress with their excellent picture quality, even if they are not really exploiting the true potential. So far, Facebook has only been offering special formats such as fan TV, live broadcasts, trailer and similar. As a video platform, Vimeo meet professional expectations, but lag behind Youtube in terms of the choice of offers.

The complete analysis and all test results of the big IPTV and Web TV test can be found in the next edition of video 12/2017, EPD 3rd November 2017.