"Behind the Scenes"
|May 2013||The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd|
Television and the Internet
Long gone are the days when the only devices used to connect to the internet were computers. Now people use a plethora of different devices all of which they expect to be able to use to connect to the internet. In fact where in the past there were distinct devices used for different purposes, many devices today overlay and blur the boundaries between devices.
With the growing volume of video available via the internet, televisions are now a popular device for viewing at least some internet content. Why sit at a desk watching video on a relatively small computer screen when you can watch the same video in comfort on a much larger television screen? There are at least two different solutions that are already available to allow you to do this. One option is to buy a smart TV. These televisions come with the ability to connect them to your home network and contain software that will allow you to access at least some sites on the web where video can commonly be found. The second alternative if that functionality isn't built directly into your television is to buy a separate device that adds that functionality. You can either buy a device specifically to do this or get another device such as a bluray player that has the functionality built in alongside the regular functionality of that device.
Depending on where your television is located relative to your internet connection you may be able to hard wire the television (or other device) directly into your home network or you may decide to set up a wireless connection. Given the internet connection speed to stream standard definition video and even high definition video, the choice between a wired and wireless local connection is unlikely to make any difference to your ability to watch streamed video on your television.
The limiting factor with being able to view video on your television is the same as the limiting factor for being able to stream the video at all - the speed of your internet connection. While most so called broadband internet connections should be fast enough to handle streaming a standard definition video (at least provided that you are not using the internet connection for anything else at the same time), not all will necessarily be able to handle streaming a high definition video. While an ADSL2+ connection is in theory capable of handling streaming a couple of high definition videos and doing a few other things at the same time, the actual speed is dependent on your distance from the exchange and the quality of your phone line and so a maximum speed that is still too slow to handle streaming a single high definition video is possible. leaving you with the choice of sticking with standard definition video or of upgrading to a faster internet connection (if there is any available in your area).
At the moment most of the available video is of standard definition (or less) and so connection speed isn't likely to be an issue yet. Also the actual shows available to be streamed are still somewhat limited meaning that you can't always get to watch the shows you want to watch when you want to watch them - for some reason a lot of movies and television shows still get released in one region of the world first and are only released in other regions at a later date - something that encourages those being treated as second class citizens by being told they have to wait to see a show that others have already seen to simply steal a copy of the show. Obviously if those producing the movies and shows want to cut down on the theft of what they are producing they will have to switch to making their video available to watch on demand from anywhere in the world from the time that it is first shown anywhere in the world.
The current idea of a cinema release followed some months later with a pay tv release followed by being able to buy the movie on disk and only after all of those have had their turn having the movie shown on free to air tv no longer works. In future people will simply expect the movie to be available for them to watch whichever way they want to watch it the day it is first released. Cinema is not really going to be affected greatly by this provided that all cinemas get access to the movie at the same time. Few people will have a home setup with a screen anywhere near the size of a cinema screen, they probably don't have a room big enough for such a screen. Many will also not have a surround sound system that will give the same sound quality as the cinema. Also with many movies now being made in single viewpoint 3D, there are still only a few who can see the depth that provides in the movie on their home television. Also while ultra high definition televisions that offer four times the resolution of high definition are starting to become available, they require 28Mbit to stream at that resolution from the internet and currently few people have a fast enough connection. By showing movies in ultra high definition single viewpoint 3D, cinemas can provide a movie experience that just isn't possible on your home television and so there is still a reason to go and see some movies at the cinema. By the time ultra high definition becomes commonplace at home the cinemas will be able to move on to the next version that has four times the resolution of ultra high definition (and which therefore would use 112Mbit to stream over the internet and then with a redesign of the cinema to be able to start showing movies in true 3D.
View on demand from the internet is already in the process of taking over from pay tv. In some cases the pay tv subscriptions already work via the internet instead of having a separate cable running into your home. By offering shows that you can stream onto your television when you want either using a payment model where you pay for access to the shows or to the site, or some form of advertising model where there is no charge for watching the shows but where the shows contain ads (probably as some form of banner across the bottom of the screen so you can't skip over them) should have the effect of reducing video piracy by providing a way to watch the shows at the time the person wants to watch them.
The limiting factor in all this is the connection that you have to the internet. Currently common internet connections such as ADSL2+ simply are nowhere near fast enough to handle what people are likely to need in a few years time. Even streaming one ultra high definition video even with not having anyone else in your house trying to do anything else on the internet at that time is almost certainly going to be impossible with even the best ADSL2+ connection. With many households having more than one television even trying to stream at high definition will probably need a better internet connection than ADSL.
The only reason that internet connection speeds have not yet become a major issue with respect to video is that there are still television broadcasts being made via means that do not involve the internet where you use either a tv arial or pay tv cable to receive the signals or where you go to a store and buy a dvd or bluray disk with the show or movie on it. There are other uses for video on the internet that these alternative delivery methods cannot handle - such as video conferences - also these alternate delivery methods don't provide video on demand where you can decide to watch a show and watch it right now with no advanced planning.
Television becoming a more integral part of people's internet is just one of the things that will create a demand for faster internet connection speeds than are currently available in many areas. It will be interesting to see who moves first in satisfying the need for on demand video - the video providers making the shows available or the ISPs providing fast enough connections to make watching them that way practical.
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