The Emergence of Online TV
The Internet is fast becoming the only place to go to for everything that you need to know and want to do. Many times, we have heard how the Internet parallels the real world. It lets us remain in touch with friends, even if they are halfway around the world. It keeps us informed and up-to-date with various news sources and social media. It helps us with our work, studies, hobbies, or just about anything else. It also keeps us entertained.
When people say online entertainment, most of us comes up with images of hosted videos like those on YouTube or Google Videos, online books that are downloadable for free or for pay, online games, or Internet music services like Yahoo Launch, iMeem, and streaming radio stations. A few, however, will also think of online TV. Although not exactly as popular as videos or music, live streams or recorded TV programs are also available on the World Wide Web.
Using popular video players such as Windows Media Player, Quicktime and Winamp, you can instantly view TV channels from all over the world. Some online TV portals claim that they have more than 3,000 channels with tens of thousands of shows in different languages. Indeed, all the most reputable TV channels like Business Week, CBS, Bloomberg TV, CNN, Comedy Central, E! Entertainment, ESPN, Discovery has online streams that may be accessed for free.
For some, online TV services have also come to mean catch-up TV services, which allow you to view programs after they are aired or programs you have missed for some reason. Services like the BBC iPlayer and YouTube competitor, Hulu, are popular catch-up TV service providers.
Others play on fan fever, bringing back canceled TV programs online. Imagine being able to watch episodes of Family Ties or Three’s Company or even Friends, all over again!
And so viewers are not constrained by the time when they watch their favorite TV show. If they are on the road, all they have to do is to open up their laptop and connect to the online TV provider, and they get instant access to their favorite shows. This is true even when they are out of the country. Fans and viewers can still get their weekly Family Guy fix even when they are in Iran.
The benefits of online TV, however, extend to content producers. With traditional TV, getting a channel on traditional broadcasters can mean paying a hefty sum of money just to start up the channel, and then a hefty monthly fee just to keep it broadcasting. On top of that, you have shows to produce and talents to pay. Online TV providers, however, can help you set up your own channel for a much lower cost. This has made niche programming available for even the smallest of niche. We currently have online TV channels on sailboat racing, poker channels, lacrosse channels, obscure horror films, and even local entertainment channels. This is because of the low cost of putting up content on online TV services, making sure that every segment of the long tail is covered.
More than this, TV channels from far flung places like Vietnam , Latvia and Romania are cropping up online.
Like in everything else, the Internet has revolutionized the way we look at TV. We are no longer stuck with the 100 or so channels on cable or satellite TV that hold no appeal for us. Instead, we can go online, and search for TV programming and content that we would like to see. No more wishing fervently that your favorite programs back home will be syndicated at some local channel wherever you’re vacationing so you could continue to watch it. You could even bring back a canceled show or a pulled-out channel back via online TV.
It is all about choices – YOUR choices. What’s more, much of the content is provided for free. Sure some have lengthy commercials, just like regular TV, but they are still worth it.
So if you feel like catching an old episode of Mr. Belvedere, or perhaps the season finale of M*A*S*H*, or get the latest recipe for cooking shitake mushrooms or getting the latest news from the world of Hollywood stars, online TV is sure to have a show or an entire channel for you. From the weird to the weirder to the mainstream, it is all available online!
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