Saturday, 13 December 2014

Comment: People Are Watching TV On Phones, Computer, Next Step Watching Overseas Channels Abroad

For quite some time, I have lived without a television for the past 15 or 20 years. During the last year when I discovered online TV the first time, I remembered missing out on a chunk of shows and films I would have watched, had I had a TV set. But with my computer, I have managed to watch movies and television shows online, just to catch up on what I have missed out on or might miss out on. 

Most of these are British shows; US TV hasn't impressed me recently or the last decade. In the 90s, I was a huge fan of American sitcoms, programmes that were out at the time. The current US shows today, with the reality and drama shows, I don't watch much of. Or be it at all.

In the US and UK, more and more people are watching TV shows and movies on tablet, mobile and online devices, with the traditional television becoming more and more redundant. 

Nielson reported that more than 2 million people in America have ditched cable and satellite television, in favour of digital TV. 

In Britain, a  recent study found that 83% of Brits and people in Britain consume television from an 'online source'. 

Ofcom says that a million homes in the UK have broadband internet connection but no TV (set). 

Online and live streaming television poses a major threat towards traditional television, and whereas I do not want the television to go away and die immediately today, I do think that if stations and networks are serious about meeting and living up to consumers and viewers expectations and standards, then they should make their content available online, live, without restrictions and without restricting people from watching them, no matter where they are in the world. 

It is frustrating these networks have to think about 'their' audience and that you can only access their service if you are in that country. 

I'm all for freedom of legal online streaming - I believe that people should be allowed to watch what they like, wherever they are and without feeling as though they are breaking the law. 

If you can travel anywhere in the world on holiday or for work, then I don't see why you shouldn't watch channels from overseas. It's unfair. 

There are various reasons as to why more and more of us are converting to mobile and online TV apps, services and sites; the increasing prices for satellite TV services and packages, people disliking the consistent ad breaks in- between shows, more flexibility in being able to watch their favourite shows and movies through catch-up services, without feeling as though they have missed out. Not forgetting viewers, who are dissatisfied with the station/channel's current - yet tired - looking programming schedule, which hasn't changed one bit, and their reluctance to air their favourite shows that they haven't seen for ages. 

We live in an age where through technology and with more choices this time round than there was 10, 20 years ago through TV apps, channel websites, people are no longer in a position to wait, any more. We want content in an instant, as and when we expect it. And without any interruptions. 

They need to embrace not just the technology fully, but to continue giving people more options, and stop limiting channels to only people living in their respective countries. Many of these stations and networks export their shows to other countries, such as US to UK; therefore, exporting their channels and services will mean more variety, more choice and even bigger audiences. 

I'm not talking about channels such as Boomerang, Cartoon Network, MTV, BET airing UK content in the UK, rather those channels offering US content in the UK, in addition to UK content. And same would apply to the US model.

How many times have you ever wanted to watch an overseas programme on that particular channel or station online.... only to see a message saying this content is only available to UK or US viewers only? Too many. And yet it sucks. 

Or seen a tweet or Facebook update from say a celebrity user, telling you to tune into their show or movie on TV.... yet seeing as you are not in the country where the programme will air, you can't access the station. At all? Again too many times this has happened. 

By making shows and movies available online through live streaming and on demand and catch up TV services in other countries, this allows people to devote more time watching the programmes they want and like. 

Broadcast media needs to move with the times; if it is going to survive in the long run, in spite of mobile and internet TV, then they need to do so much more to retain viewers, but I think it may be too little too late. Unless they start opening up and make their streaming services available, worldwide. 

Imagine being able to watch a show on Channel 4 that is broadcasting live but you can view it outside of Britain and in real-time, and vice-versa with a US show on ABC, Fox, Cartoon Network in the UK, Canada, Japan and other countries. 

With Youtube, DVDs, computers, laptops, smart phones, video game consoles which allow you to view content from providers such as Netflix and TV watching apps on mobile and tablet devices, the days of the TV appears to be over. I give it 2 more years after this one. After that, by 2017, I predict less and less households will own a TV set. A move that should worry providers like Sky, Freesat and US counterparts, Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner cable, whose subscription based services solely rely on the existence of a television set. 

The TV industry today on both sides of the Atlantic have to put their hands up, admit defeat and realize they must make their channels and networks available for free online. 

Online and mobile internet TV is here, and here to stay. The next part now is expanding on their audiences further afield and that Americans and non-US residents can watch American shows on networks such as ABC, NBC, TV Land etc across the globe and online.

If these networks and stations, as well as UK's Channel 5, ITV, BBC, Channel 4 can do this for overseas viewers and British expats, then I reckon many people will be happy. 

And many won't regret ditching their sets to access programming content. 

Image source: Shutterstock

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