Understanding Changes in the TV Streaming Experience
The current TV streaming experience can be traced back to September 1995, when ESPN hosted the world’s first-ever livestreaming event – a live radio broadcast of a baseball game featuring the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners. However, for the next decade, challenges related to bandwidth, scalability and reach made television streaming a difficult endeavor.
That all changed around 2005, the year that is generally credited as the birth of the major streaming services and streaming devices. In just a few years, the world saw the launch of YouTube, Netflix, Ustream, Apple TV, Hulu and Roku as TV streaming alternatives. By 2008, Netflix had launched its “Watch Instantly” feature.
Then, starting around 2009, we saw the launch of smartphones capable of playing high-bandwidth TV and film content. That led to new streaming and broadcast apps for iPhone and Android devices. The second-generation Apple iPad appeared in March 2011, and that opened the door to streaming TV content on a device that was larger than a smartphone but smaller than a TV.
Flash forward to today, and users are able to stream TV content across a wide variety of devices and platforms. At its very core, the streaming experience simply refers to the ability to send and receive digital content nearly simultaneously. In contrast to a typical downloading experience, in which you download a full film to your computer or mobile phone and then watch it, when you “stream” content, you can start watching immediately. You can click here to find a list of the best TV streaming services.
Netflix is probably the most recognizable name when it comes to streaming TV and film content. Gone are the days when users received DVDs via mail in red envelopes – TV shows and movies are now able to be watched instantly. While some users note that the library of shows and films may not be as current as other providers, the overall quality of the Netflix streaming experience is hard to top.
Another recognizable name in the TV streaming business is Amazon, which has transformed Amazon Prime Instant Video into a Netflix challenger. When combined with Amazon Fire TV or the Amazon Fire TV stick, users now have a remarkable number of ways to watch streaming content on their TV, not just on the Kindle device.
The latest innovation in the TV streaming experience is the ability “sling” content from one device to another. You might start out watching a TV show on the main television in your house, but only finish half an episode. You could then “sling” the show to your tablet, so that you can finish up the episode.
This concept of “time-shifting” and “place-shifting” content is gaining momentum, to the point where you can now pause and rewind live video content. Important names to watch in this space include Hulu, Sling TV and Roku. In some cases, these companies are reinventing streaming TV as a subscription-based service, in other cases, they are reinventing it as a physical device.
The new battle is between the content providers – such as HBO, ESPN and the major TV networks – and the device providers. If they both are able are able to compromise on a solution that makes it possible to watch TV anywhere, anytime and any place, then it will be the TV viewers that benefit the most. Imagine being able to watch your favorite HBO show, streaming live to your tablet, as you vacation in some exotic destination around the world.