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There are some topics discussing the carbon footprint of an email:

What’s the carbon footprint of an email?

https://twosidesna.org/US/The-Carbon-Footprint-of-Email-is-quite-large/

However, I found none about the carbon footprint of watching "IPTV": TV in streaming through a (DSL or optical fiber) box.

When you send an email, data goes to many data centers to be replicated and transmitted. Considering how many emails we daily send, this has a huge carbon footprint.

When you watch a youtube video, the data is also replicated in many data centers. Considering how many videos are hosted and watched daily, this has a huge carbon footprint.

When your Internet provider's box (like Free, Orange...) has a IPTV service, does it also have a huge carbon footprint? The data is transmitted in streaming, so I'm wondering if watching/not watching makes a real difference.

The main question I'm asking is: If you ignoring the carbon footprint of the boxe itself (power supply), does watching TV through the box have a significantly bigger footprint than watching TV through standard hertzian network (using TV tuner)?

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As a very rough guesstimate, watching HD video on a smartphone is said to use about 1 kW all in all.

I gathered this from this German-language news post which in turn references the Lean ICT Report by The Shift Project and a Swedish Study that is in turn used by the Shift Project.


If you ignoring the carbon footprint of the boxe itself (power supply), does watching TV through the box have a significantly bigger footprint than watching TV through standard hertzian network (using TV tuner)

This post cites someone again from the Shift Project who does say that local broadcasting does save energy because data is not transmitted across the whole globe for this.

Another expert from a Fraunhofer institute is cited saying that the technology used for the last mile is crucial: wireless costs most energy, fiber-optic cables are much better and copper is somewhere in between.


They also point out that reducing resolution does help a whole lot (and so does not having autoplay in the background while you are not watching).

  • Thanks for your reply. But this talks a lot about video on demand which means the streaming content is actually stored on a server, but I'm questioning on real time streaming, which is likely different because data is streamed in real time and likely not "stored" permanently on servers... – jpo38 Nov 5 at 22:35
  • Unless you're talking about watching your webcam, at least over here in Germany TV programmes do store their contents, and they are available on their servers for at least some time. Before those media servers of the TV stations became available, people would store the broadcasted (streamed) TV - I'm not sure that this is any more efficient, as at least in my experience one tended to store rather more (and then delete when one ran out of space - but it's the saving process, not the keeping that needs the energy). – cbeleites supports Monica Nov 5 at 23:47
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    True, but even when broadcasted through standard hertzian network, it had been stored on servers at some point.... it's really hard to know in the end. – jpo38 Nov 6 at 11:27

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