TV Delivery systems are starting to change.
We already know how services like Netflix have changed how we consume Television. Broadcasters have made moves to mitigate the audience drop-offs by offering shorter run, higher production value and ‘eventized’ programming in order to draw viewers however, the true limitations of broadcast have always been bandwidth, delivery systems and ageing infrastructure.
Bell’s Fibe TV offering, aimed at changing the delivery system for both Television and internet, has been largely successful in major markets. Canadian Broadcast Distribution Undertakings (BDUs) using their respective infrastructures, have created different dedicated pathways to deliver content to your home, and each has limits on the bandwidth they use to deliver that content. Essentially there are two tubes funneling content to your home; your internet service and your TV content
Comcast in the USA is looking to change that. For several years, Comcast has been testing TV over-internet bypassing the old ‘two tube’ system and instead making its TV content available through online means at multiple universities. (Something Google has effectively executed in Kansas City, offering TV and Internet over a gigabit fibre optic network.)
Users of the Comcast service are able to access a plethora of channels, delivered even when the user is off-campus. The service is currently available to laptop users and will be available to viewers using Smartphone and tablets just in time for the Fall TV season. Users of the service are just an HDMI cable away from connecting their laptop to their HDTVs to watch live streaming Television. Comcast has effectively merged the two tubes, TV and Internet, into one. This merger of delivery systems was something that I had predicted about 3-4 years ago back working as a buying assistant.
Allow me to digress; I was this bull headed kid out of school, an early adopter who had foreseen the future through nerd colored glasses. In a technology-filled basement apartment I had predicted that the Television market was headed towards a ‘correction.’ This thought process was primarily aimed at cord cutters but I originally had thought that maybe this could be applied to how all consumers would consume content. All of this was based on the fact I was too poor to afford cable, my antenna reached 2 stations, and I was streaming everything I could from online sources. This new Comcast offering will be a cost-efficient attraction for consumers tiring of paying $200 each month for the privilege of watching TV.
Our TV consumption habits have changed to the point where we binge and gorge on content rather than sample. Streaming content providers are benefiting from our new ‘immediate gratification’ mentality. Streaming broadcast TV isn’t new. Stations are currently making some live streams available online as long as you have a cable package however, as more and more users (millennials) are only purchasing internet packages, I strongly believe we’re going to start to see this Comcast type project expand to BDU’s across North America. With Smart TV penetration growing rapidly the likeliness of ‘TV via internet’ becomes all the more viable.
Using the internet to deliver TV could also open up new sources of revenue including greater levels interactivity and new ad formats such as lower-third banners and other synchronous programming and commercial enhancements.
What if content providers themselves enable online streams and cut out distribution? Moving to a purely over IP network content delivery system also might serve to accelerate programmatic buying and dynamic insertion of spots. The only thing that could really hold this future back would be net neutrality… and that’s an easy hurdle to overcome right?
Ultimately, Digital delivery isn’t forcing Television to fade into obscurity as many have predicted. Much like print and radio, Television is adapting and evolving on what seems like a weekly basis. It’s only a matter of time before Smart TV’s become our set top boxes and all our video content, whether it be ‘digital’ or ‘broadcast’, is delivered online. It’s exciting to see where we are going.
Time to brush up on programmatic video buying. I have a feeling I might need it shortly.
What do YOU think? Leave your comments below.