Impact of Technology on Modern Television

Instructor: Mary Matthiesen-Jones

Mary has worked around the world for over 30 years in international business, advertising, and market research. She has a Master's degree in International Management and has taught University undergraduate and graduate level courses .

How do you watch television today? Do you use your phone or a tablet instead of your regular TV set? Learn about how new technologies are changing how and where we watch TV.

Technology and TV Viewing Habits

Technology is changing the way that Americans watch TV. Over one quarter of all Americans now watch TV over the Internet through streaming services, using devices other than traditional TV sets. Among younger viewers that number jumps to over 60 percent.

These numbers also suggest that the more people use mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, like younger viewers, the more likely they are to get their programming through the Internet.

This on-the-go connectivity is being fed by continuous advances in television and Internet technology.

It's All About Speed

Higher speeds are making mobile TV viewing increasingly attractive. How often have you tried to stream a movie or video and encountered buffering, that 'Loading' message that appears when the video won't play until enough of it has downloaded. This is all about Internet connections and speed.

Broadband refers to high speed Internet access that is always on. Internet access originally only came in one form - a dial-up connection that was dialed in over a phone line. The slow speed made it usable for only the most basic tasks.

Today's broadband connections come in a variety of forms including DSL, satellite, wireless, and cable modems. DSL,4 for example, can transmit data literally tens of thousands of times faster than dial-up. Another way to think of broadband is like a highway. A four lane broadband highway can handle a lot more traffic than a single lane dial-up country road.

Like a highway, broadband can handle a lot more traffic than DSL, which is like a single lane road.

Bandwidth, or the amount of data an Internet connection can handle at any given time, is like the speed limit on a highway.

Bandwidth is what you are using when you are streaming a movie from Netflix (which uses lots of bandwidth) or sending an email (which uses just a little.) The Internet plan you buy helps determine your Internet speed.

With smart devices offering faster and faster connection speeds, the ability to access streaming content on mobile devices is becoming increasingly easy. If your current phone is 4G, that means fourth generation level of connectivity. Your 4G phone connects faster than your old 3G phone. And 5G technology is on the horizon, which will be up to 20 times faster than 4G!

With faster and faster speeds available on phones and other mobile devices, the more attractive streaming media becomes.

Technology Trends

In addition to advances in Internet technology, the television industry has been seeking ways to make TV viewing easier and more engaging.

Companies that provide TV service have recognized that today's viewers want to be able to choose when and where they watch their favorite programs or movies without having to pay extra for that convenience.

Enter TV Everywhere, a business model where you can download an app from your cable or satellite service on your mobile device, login, and watch the programming that is already part of your subscription. For example, if you pay for HBO, you can download their HBO Go app and never miss an episode of your favorite HBO series or movies, even when you are on the go.

DVR, digital video recording technology, is the ability to time-shift viewing by recording programs to watch later remains popular among older adults. It's used by almost 50 percent of households.

However, younger age groups are starting to replace DVR usage with streaming services like VOD, video on demand. VOD allows viewers to watch programs or movies in real time or download them to watch later. Programs can be viewed free with some networks or through paid services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. This technology allows access to a broader range of programming on mobile devices, anytime, anywhere. Viewers no longer have to be tied to their TV set and a DVR device.

ITV, interactive television, combines traditional TV technology and data services. Viewers can give commands about what programs to watch or even respond directly to buying things when they see a commercial.

Just as mobile devices are used for interactive activities like gaming, ITV gives advertisers a way to reach TV viewers, and allow those viewers to respond instantly.

The Cable Challenge

More and more Americans are cutting the cable TV cord as technologies improve and alternative viewing options become more popular. Millions of cable subscribers are vanishing every year.

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