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Over the Top TV will never happen – Part II

Faultline has been taking part in an online discussion (join the Advanced Television group on LinkedIn), and we continue to be amazed at how much effo


Published: 10 February, 2011


Faultline has been taking part in an online discussion (join the Advanced Television group on LinkedIn), and we continue to be amazed at how much effort goes into bemoaning the future potential loss or reduction in linear TV.

Most people on these discussion boards (consumers and people in broadcasting) think internet TV won’t amount to anything, things will stay the same, and even young people will one day subscribe to Freeview (DTT service in the UK) or cable and make do with that. They don’t understand that this generation is lost forever.

On this discussion board figures are spouted such as “even computer literate kids only watch 5 minutes a day on the internet and that’s on their PC.” We find it incredible that a) people want things to stay the same and b) expect them too.

This is of course because most people have little imagination. We are old enough to remember phones coming into middle class domestic homes for the first time and when TV sets showed mostly black and white pictures. We suppose there were people back then who said that color was not needed and what’s wrong with the coin operated phone box at the end of the street.

That’s why, no matter what you think of things like Google TV, and how disappointed you may or may not be with video on your iPad, these things will emerge and become commonplace, as will 3D TV, one way or another (perhaps without the glasses) along with HD video conferencing from your TV. It just takes a little longer than everyone thinks, usually to work out who is going to pay for what on the equipment front.

But as for the notion that watching video over the internet is over-stated, we think the opposite is the case. The Pew Internet and American Life project has known for some time that people openly admit that using the internet means they watch less TV. In January this year it also concluded that 6% of US people so far have paid for videos, movies, or TV shows online, and back in June it did a specialist survey on video over the internet, and found that roughly half of all US adults have used the internet to watch or download video, with 18-29 year-olds leading the way. The viewing of movies or TV show over the internet rose this year from 16% to 32% of adult internet users. This is a tsunami, not an eddy current.

Respected screen research company DisplaySearch says that 21% of all TV sets shipped in 2011 will have an internet connection. This is around 40 million devices, so what are they going to do with it? Just watch linear TV? It goes on to say that some 122 million “connected” TV sets will ship in 2014, more than half of annually shipped TVs.

Right now the biggest problems remain technical, transposing formats and transcoding codecs, but gradually that’s going away as the world settles on 3 or 4 adaptive streaming techniques for all video. The other problem is that there are few connections from a home gateway to a TV set, and who is going to run another Ethernet cable around their home, through doors, to their TV set.

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