Internet TV Gaining Popularity At Rapid Pace

It seems that TV viewing in India has finally moved Internet as people are moving online to watch their TV shows. The percentage of consumers in India who prefer watch TV shows on television sets has plummeted by 78% over the past year, according to an Accenture 2017 Digital Consumer Survey. The number of people who prefer to watch TV shows on television sets have declined to just 10% from 47% a year earlier. This signals an increasing shift in the digital video market consumer behaviour. The survey further said that consumers increasingly prefer to watch TV shows on devices such as laptops, smartphones and desktop personal computers.

Around 42% would view the TV shows on laptops or desktops from 32% last year. While 13% said that they prefer to watch their TV shows on their smartphones from 10% last year. Besides this, the report said that smartphone has nearly doubled to 41% in 2017 from 23% in 2014 in preference for watching video clips. This is the reason why content creators from TV broadcasters to VOD/OTT players and production houses have come out with their own digital media platform. Broadcasters include Hotstar, Ditto TV, Ozee, Voot and SonyLiv. Production houses such as Eros has its own platform ErosNow and even Balaji entered recently with Balaji Alt. Other VOD platforms include YuppTV, NextG TV, VuClip, Spuul, Hooq, among others.

Aditya Chaudhuri, Managing Director and Lead for Accenture’s communications, media and technology group in India in Ad Age report said that over the past one year we have seen a surge in the launch of over-the-top services both, by global and Indian media and entertainment companies.  “The ever increasing penetration of the internet mainly through mobile, backed by Wi-Fi and broadband has helped this wave. This coupled with high-quality content hosted by the content providers has enticed the Indian consumers to view varied content both live broadcast and video-on-demand (VOD) on different devices,” he added.

What is Internet TV?

New technology can change the way we receive news and entertainment, though. Radio challenged newspapers in the early 1900s, and television challenged radio. Now, it looks as though traditional television has its own competitor, but it’s not one that’s easily separated from television. It even has television in its name — it’s what we’re now calling Internet TV. Internet TV, in simple terms, is video and audio delivered over an Internet connection. It’s also known as Internet protocol television, or IPTV. You can watch Internet TV on a computer screen, a television screen (through a set-top box) or a mobile device like a cell phone or an iPod.

It’s almost the same as getting television through an antenna or a series of cable wires — the difference is that information is sent over the Internet as data. At the same time, you can find even more variety on Internet TV than cable TV. Along with many of the same shows you find on the big networks, many Web sites offer independently produced programs targeted toward people with specific interests. If you wanted to watch a show on vegetarian cooking, for example, you could probably find it more easily over the Internet than on regular TV. Because many sites offer on-demand services, you don’t have to keep track of scheduling. For sites using webcasting or real-time streaming video, though, live broadcasting is still an option. In this focus, we’ll go over the basics of Internet TV and talk about some of the current options for finding and watching it.

Content provider

Examples include:

  • An independent service, such as Netflix or Amazon Video, Hotstar, Google Play Movies, myTV (Arabic), Sling TV, Sony LIV, Viewster, or Qello (which specializes in concerts).
  • A service owned by a traditional terrestrial, cable, or satellite provider, such as DittoTV (owned by Dish TV)
  • An international movies brand, such as Eros International or Eros Now
  • A service owned by a traditional film or television network, television channel, or content conglomerate, such as BBC Three since 17 Jan 2016, CBSN, CNNGo, HBO Now, Now TV (UK) (owned by Sky), PlayStation Vue (owned by Sony), or Hulu (a joint venture)
  • A peer-to-peer video hosting service such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Crunchyroll
  • Combination services like TV UOL which combines a Brazilian Internet-only TV station with user-uploaded content, or Crackle, which combines content owned by Sony Pictures with user uploaded content
  • Audio-only services like Spotify, though not “Internet television” per se, are sometimes accessible through video-capable devices in the same way.

Receiver

The receiver must have an Internet connection, typically by Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and could be:

  • A web browser running on a personal computer (typically controlled by mouse and keyboard) or mobile device, such as Firefox, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer
  • A mobile app running on a smartphone or tablet computer
  • A dedicated digital media player, typically with remote control. These can take the form of a small box, or even a stick that plugs directly into an HDMI port. Examples include Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee, and WD TV. Sometimes these boxes allow streaming of content from the local network or storage drive, typically providing an indirect connection between a television and computer or USB stick
  • A SmartTV which has Internet capability and built-in software accessed with the remote control
  • A Video Game Console connected to the internet such as the Xbox One and PS4.
  • A DVD player or Blu-ray disc player with Internet capabilities in addition to its primary function of playing content from physical discs
  • A set-top box or digital video recorder (DVR) provided by the cable or satellite company or an independent party like TiVo, which has Internet capabilities in addition to its primary function of receiving and recording programming from the non-Internet cable or satellite connection

Not all receiver devices can access all content providers. Most have websites that allow viewing of content in a web browser, but sometimes this is not done due to digital rights management concerns or restrictions. While a web browser has access to any website, some consumers find it inconvenient to control and interact with content with a mouse and keyboard, inconvenient to connect a computer to their television, or confusing. Many providers have mobile software applications (“apps”) dedicated to receive only their own content. Manufacturers of SmartTVs, boxes, sticks, and players must decide which providers to support, typically based either on popularity, common corporate ownership, or receiving payment from the provider.

Display device

A display device, which could be:

  • A television set or video projector linked to the receiver with a video connector (typically HDMI)
  • A smart TV screen
  • A computer monitor
  • The built-in display of a smartphone or tablet computer

Types and Prices

Although video quality and screen size vary, right now Internet TV offers a few more benefits than traditional television does. It also offers a variety of options and formats. You can watch two basic types of broadcasts through Internet TV: live broadcasts or on-demand videos. Web sites like wwiTV compile lists of live broadcast channels. If you want to catch up on the news in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for instance, simply click on Argentina — channels are usually grouped by country — and browse through the list of available broadcasts. Some TV networks also play live, streaming feeds of their programming on their official sites. Either way, it’s like watching live TV on your computer screen. You can’t pause, back up or skip through parts of the broadcast that don’t interest you.

On-demand videos, on the other hand, are usually arranged like a playlist. Episodes or clips are arranged by title or channel or in categories like news, sports or music videos. You choose exactly what you want to watch, when you want to watch it. Comedy Central’s official site, for example, features the Motherload, which lets you browse through pre recorded clips from programs such as “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Although it’s not live television, you don’t have to worry about networks taking down clips because of copyright issues.

In addition to the two basic broadcast categories, there are three basic fee structures for Internet TV:

  • Free: Aside from the fee you pay for Internet connectivity, many Internet TV sites or channels don’t cost anything. Many of these free sites are supported by advertising, so banner ads may show up around the site, or short commercials may play before you watch videos. It may seem a little bothersome to wait for video, but it’s the only way for the Web site designers to make money and offer quality content for you to watch. Plus, the wait is never too long — ad lengths can range from a few seconds to 30 seconds, which is still shorter than most commercials.
  • Subscription: This works just like your cable TV bill. You typically pay a monthly fee for a certain number of channels or on-demand video. Prices are constantly changing since Internet TV is in its early stages, but subscriptions can cost depending on the number of channels you want.
  • Pay-per-view: Pay-per-view videos or podcasts can cost nothing if the site is free, and major networks generally charge between $3 and $7 for downloads and rentals.

Bandwidth and Streaming

There are two things that make Internet TV possible. The first is bandwidth. To understand bandwidth, it’s best to think of the Internet as a series of highways and information as cars. If there’s only one car on the highway, that car will travel quickly and easily. If there are many cars, however, traffic can build up and slow things down. The Internet works the same way — if only one person is downloading one file, the transfer should happen fairly quickly. If several people are trying to download the same file, though, the transfer can be much slower. In this analogy, bandwidth is the number of lanes on the highway. If a Web site’s bandwidth is too low, traffic will become congested. If the Web site increases its bandwidth, information will be able to travel back and forth without much of a hassle. Bandwidth is important for Internet TV, because sending large amounts of video and audio data over the Internet requires large bandwidths.

The second important part of Internet TV is streaming audio and video. Streaming technology makes it possible for us to watch live or on-demand video without downloading a copy directly to a computer. There are a few basic steps to watching streaming audio and video:

  • A server holds video data.
  • When you want to watch a video, you click the right command, like “Play” or “Watch.” This sends a message to the server, telling it that you want to watch a certain video.
  • The server responds by sending you the necessary data. It uses streaming media protocols to make sure the data arrives in good condition and with all the pieces in the right order.
  • A plugin or player on your computer — Windows Media Player and RealPlayer are two popular examples — decodes and plays the video signal.

Internet population in India

While people are moving to digital mediums for the TV shows in India, regional content consumption has increased significantly in the country. According to an Ernest & Young (EY) report, currently 45% of the users used to consume regional language based content. In 2018 it is expected that 70-90% Indian’s online will not speak English and less 1% use it as a primary language. “The next wave of growth in India’s internet population is expected from tier II and tier III cities, where wireless mobile internet shall play a pivotal role thus enabling the growth of vernacular and regional content,” said the report.

The preference of the Indian consumers towards vernacular and regional language content is constantly on the upswing, with 93% of the time spent on videos in Hindi and other regional languages, it added. While 63% content consumption in terms of time spent is 63%, 30% is of other regional language and only 7% of English is consumed. In 2015, the internet user base in urban India was 246 million and rural was 129 million. However, the EY report expects that by 2020 the rural internet user base will be more than the urban with 388 million people, in comparison to 358 million of urban users. It further says that online video audience in India is expected to grow from 160 million in 2016 to 250 million in 2017 and to reach 450 million by 2020. India is currently behind China and the US in terms of the online video audience which is at 530 million and 215 million respectively. By 2020, India will be the second largest online video audience at 450 million, with only China ahead with 663 million, said report.

This means that digital media players should consider aggregating or producing vernacular content to capture the next set of users. Some of this can already be seen many video-on-demand (VOD) players in India including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have started to invest in creating digital content in India in Hindi and other regional languages. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have set aside Rs 2,000 crore each for acquiring content to attract customers, according to recent reports.

In the end, all these digital content players have their eyes of the big prize. Over-the-top (OTT) and digital advertising in India in 2016 accounts for Rs 8,100 crore and is expected to grow to a massive Rs 18,500 crore by 2020, says the  report. In addition is the revenue from subscription charges that these digital content players charge. While video OTT subscription in India is at Rs 170 crore in 2016, it is expected to grow to Rs 1,230 crore in 2020.

Conclusion

Although Internet TV promises quite a lot, the concept doesn’t come without criticism. Users with slow Internet connections may have difficulty getting data fast enough. Many complain that the video quality pales in comparison to HDTV screens, and Web sites have difficulty providing sufficient bandwidth. Peer-to-peer software may offer a possible solution, since it spreads out the amount of available information across lots of computers instead of putting all the pressure on one server. Internet TV could eventually change the way we get our news and entertainment. People who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about certain subjects but don’t have a contract with a major network can produce their own shows if they have the right technology.

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