STREAMING TV: THE NEXT GENERATION
Posted by Tim Bryce on April 14, 2014
BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY
– Like it or not, Streaming TV is here to stay.
Prior to the advent of cable-TV, we were all at the mercy of the programming of the Big 3 networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC. The viewer quickly became familiar with their scheduling. It was simple and you knew when everything was on. For example, Friday nights were boxing and wrestling, Saturday nights were movies, Sunday nights were Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, and Disney, etc. It was rather easy to figure out. Cable-TV came along in the 1970’s and added several channels, such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, The Movie Channel, etc. These channels quickly reproduced and multiplied into dozens of additional channels. Many other networks were introduced and propagated accordingly. So much so, the simple “TV Guide” was essentially replaced by monstrous programming schedules shown on the screen. At the same time, we went through a plethora of video players, such as Beta, VHS, DVD’s, and Blu-ray, providing us with additional content for us to chose from.
Streaming technology is the latest twist and it’s arrival inevitable. People want instant access to their favorite shows and movies, so they can watch them any time and any place, without having to purchase the latest media hardware. Now we are being inundated with choices and frankly, a lot of people are intimidated by the technology, particularly older people who are not imbued with smart phones and the Internet. Actually, the technology is not as imposing as it may seem. It just requires a little patience to learn it.
I got involved with the Roku Streaming Player not long ago. It requires Wi-Fi support, and an HDMI port, which is now standard on High Definition Televisions (HDTV). A remote control is included to navigate the many channels available, such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, Pandora, Acorn (for lovers of British TV), and many others. Each has considerable content for you to wade through.
I also tried Google’s ChromeCast which also requires an HDMI port and Wi-Fi support. Unlike Roku, it requires computer input as opposed to a remote control unit. ChromeCast also includes such channels as Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Pandora, etc. From my observation, it doesn’t have as much content as Roku yet, but is has more than enough to entertain you and keep you busy.
Other streaming players are doubtless in the offing. All that seems to be needed is an HDMI port, Wi-Fi support, and access to the various networks which, I must point out, requires subscriptions for a fee.
These devices bring to the table a huge repository of programming, be it movies, television, sporting events (both past and present), and you can watch it at your convenience, not a set time. You can either select from different categories, such as Drama, Comedy, Action, etc. or search for a particular title yourself. For classic movie or television buffs, be forewarned, I had trouble finding anything of substance from the 1960’s or earlier.
Now, with such streaming devices, there are so many choices, it takes a long time to find something to watch. Many shows are either of no interest to me due to a variety of reasons, or I’ve seen them before. The search for a suitable program can become laborious and frustrating, particularly when you keep striking out with the search routines provided by the networks, and herein is the Achilles’ Heal of these services. The content is so massive, you will inevitably find yourself wasting considerable time trying to find something to watch. If you happen to know the title of the program, great. If not, forget it. It would be nice if the search engines would allow you to search by keyword, actor, director, studio, or year made. Better yet, establish “Junk” parameters for browsing the various categories. For example, I am not a fan of actor Adam Sandler, therefore I wish I could block the listing of his films, thereby expediting my browsing. Perhaps I want to search by a specific year or range of years, which would certainly speed things up. This has more to do with the networks as opposed to devices like Roku and ChromeCast. Whatever network finds a better way of searching or browsing through their content, will likely dominate the field.
Streaming TV is here to stay. Forget about your tape decks and DVD players; they have gone the way of “rabbit ears,” UHF antennas, and television sign-offs at 1:00pm. You will have to pay a little more for your television pleasure, and it will seem a lot more complicated, but this is the future of television, like it not. For those of you who can remember the early days of television, you will undoubtedly miss the simplicity of three network programming, and how inexpensive television used to be (free). Such is the price of progress.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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