PC in the den
A BBC survey has shown that people are watching more online TV than ever, finding that when there's nothing to watch on TV, there's often something worth watching online instead. There's also more video online to watch than before, with an increasing number of people deciding to log on, tune in to their favourite video website, and watch.
On the outset, these statistics mean little to us in the third world where barely 7% of us have regular access to the Internet and the majority of them at slow dial-up speeds. It may well take years, before we could seriously talk about Internet TV making it to the average Sri Lankan lounge room, but the revolution has already started.
News about Sri Lankan telecommunication companies venturing into Satellite TV would be stale by the time you read this, but the future holds much promise for anyone who's daring enough to use this technology in creative new ways.
Surely you don't pay to watch free-to-air TV channels like Rupavahini or Sirasa TV because the advertisers pay the stations. But we have almost no control over the available content and their telecast times. On the other hand, you have total control on what you do on the Internet, about what you browse and when you do it. Your ISP stays in business by charging you for the connection and bandwidth it provides. So it only takes a reasonably small leap in your imagination to consider the possibility that these two business models could combine well in the future to provide users with on-demand content – it wouldn't matter whether it's a webpage or a TV program – on your TV and computer for a very affordable price even in poorer countries such as our’s.
The technology that will propel TV content on the Internet has been evolving for a while now. BitTorrent networks are known to offer a wide range of pirated content at the moment, from music, movies, TV shows, software, ebooks and more, with TV programmes airing in all corners of the world being available only hours after airing on TV for download by anyone around the world. On a different end of the scale, moves by Apple with the iTunes store, and Microsoft with the Xbox 360 video download service, are trying to blunt the never-ending advance of pirate TV and movie content by making them easy to access, easy to purchase, and easy to watch.
The big problem with much of today's online TV is the poor quality of the picture. While some video is recorded on mobile phones and then sent to Youtube or other sites, more and more semi-professional and professional works are appearing on some of these sites. BitTorrent TV shows are said to often be recordings from HD broadcasts, with video quality much better than that experienced on most Youtube video clips. Whichever way you look at it, there's more video online than ever before, and the ever-widening spread of broadband at ever faster speeds makes watching and enjoying online video content a far more rewarding experience.
The growing worldwide popularity of Internet video and TV shows that it is here to stay and no matter how you look at it, Internet TV is eating into the time that people usually would have spent watching regular TV. Not only do the statistics show a steady shift of viewers migrating from free-to-air television to Internet TV at least in the developed countries, but they also indicate in no uncertain terms that the time people spend watching TV has actually increased with the advent of Internet TV. Now, you don't have to be Einstein's great-grandson to see a business opportunity there! But what will you be watching tonight, something on TV, or something from the Internet? Write into email@example.com and let us know.