A few months ago, I wrote an article discussing how the internet has revolutionised how we receive our visual entertainment – such as shows made specifically for viewing on the internet as well as the popularity of catch-up players such as BBC’s iPlayer – but since then, there’ve been significant moves to bring TV shows to t’interweb in their entirety and make UK television programmes globally available via our computers.
At the moment, shows on UK catch-up facilities such as iPlayer aren’t available anywhere except the UK because of issues regarding “international rights clearance” however, it seems that the director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is currently in talks with Eric Schmidt – the chief exec of Google – about rolling out an internationally available version of iPlayer which would work along the lines of Google owned YouTube.
In an interview with The Telegraph about this issue, a BBC spokesperson is quoted as saying, “There are a significant number of obstacles to extending this commercially to other countries, including international rights clearance.
“These obstacles present significant difficulties and for this reason there are no firm plans for a specific international BBC iPlayer, but audiences can watch BBC content outside the UK through numerous BBC Worldwide content deals with online partners such as iTunes.”
But of course, it costs to do so whereas if you’re in the UK, iPlayer is free to watch. However, in the course of these talks, it seems that the BBC are simultaneously discussing the possibility of making available full-length shows on YouTube – until a dedicated platform is introduced – which at the moment, only shows short clips of BBC shows.
And it’s not only the BBC and Google who’re currently trying to extend their viewing audience to web and other platform users; Microsoft has apparently signed a deal with Sky TV which will enable Xbox 360 owners to watch Premier League football matches through their Xbox. Users of Xbox are already able to download films and other media through the console.
In addition, the very popular site Hulu is due to roll out its service to the UK this September. Hulu is a free online video-on-demand service that’s backed by News Corp, NBC Universal and Disney and is currently only available in the US but as of September, we’ll also be able to watch more than 3,000 hours of American content here as well as ITV and Channel 4 shows.
But other providers are looking to do the opposite and make the internet available via TV and Adobe’s ‘rich media’ technology may soon be in-built into new TVs and set-top boxes.
It seems that microchips containing Adobe Flash software will enable TV broadcasters and other content providers to make available applications and software that promise to “deliver a rich web-browsing experience” via our TVs. The in-built facility will allow us to check our emails and get weather and travel updates as we watch telly.
The bosses at Adobe expect the first generation of Flash-enabled TVs and set top boxes to be available early next year and several big name manufacturers, such as Sony and Samsung, are already producing internet-enabled tellies that are capable of running programs that’re known as “widgets.”
Widgets give access to a variety of popular services and television industry bigwigs are apparently very keen to ensure that TV as we know it isn’t killed off by computers and believe that making the internet and web-based TV services are crucial to ensuring computers don’t take over as our main source of home entertainment.
Adobe says it hopes their next-generation Flash-enabled devices will “bring high-definition video streaming, interactive news tickers and quizzes to television viewers.” It’s reportedly already signed content deals with film rental service Netflix as well as Disney and the New York Times to create the first applications for the platform.
So what’s going to win the race? Will we soon have our computer screens with a picture of our Nan or a bowl of pot pourri sitting atop it as a living room centre piece or will the traditional TV stay put?
Well, I guess that remains to be seen but if I were a betting woman, I’d say that the next generation are going to want their entertainment entirely on demand and portable, which could well make the traditional TV set a redundant antique.
I know I prefer to have my TV shows when I want them and be able to watch them where I want to; for instance, when I’ve missed a show and need to catch up, but don’t want to sit inside, I take my laptop into the garden and watch out there.
What about you? Which is your preference? On demand, whenever, wherever you want and for free – which could mean the end of the BBC’s licence fee too – or will the TV remain a fixture for you no matter what? Let us know!