While 2011 will be known as the year of revolutions, 2010 will go down as the year the web streaming wars began. With low-cost streaming sites like Netflix gobbling into the realm of TV and movies, now YouTube wants to get in on the action by expanding its service to offer full-length movies, while Amazon has it own film streaming projects underway.
In the last couple of years, there has been a surge in viewers who watch movies and TV over web-enabled streaming devices. And, the trend keeps growing, extending to mobile platforms as well. Nearly 25 million mobile video users watched an average of four hours and 20 minutes of mobile video per month. By the end of 2010 Smartphone penetration had reached 31%. [Source: Nielsen]
With technology evolving at light speed, many have predicted the web’s glory and traditional media’s demise. The Internet, namely, web streaming offers home users a myriad of options to enjoy the latest TV shows and movies. The wealth of experiences offered by the World Wide Web most certainly makes it a force to be reckoned with. But is the force so strong that streaming will be able to completely eradicate regular TV from our lives?
The force is strong with this one…
First, let’s first see what each have to offer.
- It’s intuitive (and everyone knows how to use it)
- It’s immersive (Allows you to be a passive couch potato)
- Gives you the ‘big screen’ experience (or best screen available)
- Can’t always find what you’re looking for
- Limited by TV schedules
- Freedom (not slave to a channel schedule)
- Variety (not restricted by the channels available to your cable provider)
- Fewer commercials
- Requires some technical knowledge
- Makes you work for your content (Requires you to be an active couch potato)
- Quality Issues with Streaming Live Content
- Connection Issues
- Streaming Quality becomes an issue the larger the screen output
Can Americans Cut The Cable?
Last year, the cable industry saw a record-breaking 711,000 subscribers give up cable television. Six of eight major cable operators said they suffered their worst quarterly subscriber losses ever.
A 2010 study released by Yankee Group found that more than 6,000 US consumers were planning on eliminating or scaling back their cable, satellite or other pay-TV service. The foremost reason being the cost.
Cable and satellite viewers pay an average of $71 per month, and according to research by Centris they receive an average annual price hike of 5%. But cable users are the most unsatisfied of the bunch. A survey by A J.D. Power and Associates showed that cable consumers are more likely to feel ripped off than telecom or satellite TV customers. Cable subscribers don’t feel they’re getting enough value for TV bills that continue to get larger.
Nevertheless, TV is still king in American homes. Nielsen reports from 2009 and 2010 show that the average American household consists of 2.7 persons and contains 2.9 television sets. The typical American watches an average of 143 hours of television monthly. However, their Internet use only adds up to about 27 hours per month.
The demographics paint a telling story (or at least permit me to draw my own conclusions). The older you are, the more likely you are to watch television. Teens in fact watch the least amount of television. Young people, ages 13-24, spend an average of 16.7 hours a week online, excluding e-mail, compared to 13.6 hours watching TV. 59% of young people’s TV-viewing consists of live TV on a TV set, and 41% is time-shifted, DVDs, online, or mobile.[Source]
Today’s teen was born into an information age, filled with gadgets and gizmos aplenty, and is likely to be much more tech-savvy than people from their parents’ generation and older. They are more inclined to go find videos and shows online whereas the majority of the population is accustomed to going to their television sets for entertainment. TV has been around long enough to become a staple in everyone’s home. About three quarters (76%) of Americans own either a desktop or laptop computer. As Internet usage grows, and as these teens also grow up, I believe the trend will be for Internet and TV to come together, rather than one eventually annihilating the other.
We are in a state of flux, an age of innovation where the New versus Old mentality reigns. If older technologies want to stay in the game, they have to adapt themselves to be at par (at the very least) with where technological innovation has led the masses. The web is adapting itself to TV, but TV is also adapting itself to the Web. The growth of DVRs, video-on-demand, and HD channels will continue to expand and keep the TV industry alive and well, while emerging services like Google TV will help harmonize the merging of TV and Web.