Internet over the next few years.
I'm an early adopter. There, I've said it. I'm a lover of technology, and most things geek. I'm also an Apple fan boy and feel compelled to buy most products that they release.
Now, this isn't because I can afford it, far from it, but I want that new tech and I want it now. One of the benefits of being an early adopter is that I'm starting to gather an insight in to how technology, particularly the Internet is shifting how we think about and source things in our everyday lives. I'd like to share my ideas with you and while some will agree, other will not. That's cool, but let me know what you think.
TV is the big shift and has been steadily evolving over the last few years.
In the early days of TV, stations broadcast what they thought we'd like. We (well my grandparents) had no choice but to watch what the were given. This didn't seem to bother them as they were just chuffed to bits that the could see the person talking to them, albeit on a tiny fuzzy screen. TV evolved very slowly over the next few decades adding more and more stations. Features, other than colour, were not really in demand and viewers didn't seem to care.
SLowly but surely stations improved methods of generating revenue, the king of which was (and still is) advertising. Media companies such as Fox sprang up and competed with "free to air" stations by selling TV channels offering premium content. The public got used to the idea of paying, while still seeming content to sit through advertising. This went on for a while.
Four or Five years ago things started to change, those amongst us who are able downloaded episodes of their favourite show from various sources on the Internet. They watched them on laptops or sat at their desk, while it was possible to burn them to a DVD it was just too much of a pain in the arse and a waste of a DVD to watch a low res version of Grey Anatomy. There were a few über geeks who had very hacky methods of hooking a computer to a TV but they were few and far between.
While BluRay was hitting the mainstream, the numbers who were downloading shows was increasing. The downloaders started to want their downloaded shows in HD. And why not, they had been spoilt by HD movies for a while. Download speeds and bandwidth allowance had increased and made this a reality.
This was becoming a major issue for the TV stations as it had been for a long time for their filmmaking counterparts.
About the same sort of time tech companies were cottoning on and producing devices able to play this content without too much hassle. Users were wanting to move away from watching TV on a laptop or sat at a desk and more people started to use devices attached to HD TV's.
- How TV stations wanted to compete
- Advertising costs?
- Tackling piracy
We're now in a position where we're acutely aware of TV shows airing in the U.S. a long time before they're available on domestic TV here in Australia. TV stations here have tried to combat the desire for a user to download the show by offering to air it within a day or two of it shown overseas.
While this puts a percentage of downloaders off, others are either too impatient and want it the same day. Or, because the download is available, would prefer to have the file to hand and watch it when it suits them. The later would be my preference. Both of these methods cause a different headache to the airing stations: advertising. Most downloaded content has advertising stripped out.
So lets summarise; at the moment it's incredibly easy to download TV content from the internet. Downloaders have the option to view the content when they like, how they like and without advertising. This is obviously a problem. If TV producers are not being paid for their work then TV is not sustainable.
The interim solution
TV companies have, over the last few years started to work more closely with tech companies producing content that is also sold on devices such as the Apple TV and Roku players. They've also made free to air content available through various online channels such as BBC's iPlayer. TV companies, being strict with their licensing agreements, are forcing companies such as Apple and Netflix to sell content region by region, which leaves us in Australia pretty high and dry and those folk in the U.S erm… low and wet? There are of course ways around this but they're not for the average user.
In my opinion the current solution of services like Netflix doesn't solve the problem, but its a step in the right direction.
TV execs have realised that the average viewer is time poor, and wants to watch TV on their terms. Charging for this is still an issue, and advertising is becoming harder to sell as fewer people are watching it.
So what to do?
With the exception of a few government or license fee funded channels, TV will all be available through subscriptions such as Netflix, Hulu Plus etc. This subscription will be a relatively low price and have a couple of tiers allowing users to stream different content or content to be used across different platforms. These services will be made available worldwide, without limitation.
Traditional TV channels will decrease in number as viewers will be able to start a show when it suits them.
Viewers will also marathon series from start to finish, making TV series longer in number episodes but shorter in length. This will allow the producers to add more advertising.
TV will still be watched on a television set but be synced with other devices like tablets and smartphone. This will allow the viewer to continue watching regardless of their location.
Tablets will also work in tandem with TV shows and show complementary content. Imagine watching the first two places of a Grand Prix battle on TV set and watching a different part of the field on a different device.
TV producers will still be looking for ways to sell advertising, viewers will be looking for ways to watch less advertising. The solution will be to increase product placement within shows, or worse still, to have advertising during the show perhaps in a corner. This will prove pretty tricky to remove and viewers will just have to wear it.