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Internet TV? My Arse!

Posted on 2006/07/17 15:43:42 (July 2006).

[Saturday 15th July]
Today was a generally very uneventful day. Chie had two separate appointments with friends, one at lunch time, one in the evening. So she was basically out all day, and I was far too lazy to do anything very useful with my time. Instead I just slobbed around the flat, wasting time on the computer.

Normally I would try to do something productive - write some software or do something on the website. After a hard week at work though I just wasn't in the mood to use my brain at all - I just wanted to sit back and be entertained in a completely passive manner.

Television seemed to be the answer as far as brainless entertainment, but unfortunately I find it a bit hard to get on with Japanese telly (my fault mainly - my language ability really isn't up to scratch enough to actually enjoy it).

Anywho, as someone who works in the broadcast industry, I often hear from supposedly forward looking people how traditional broadcast media (terrestrial, satellite, cable) are on their last legs, soon to be swept away by the tidal wave of Internet based TV. Well, at the risk of being quoted in years to come in the same way as that guy who said (on computers) "There'll only ever be a market for about five of these worldwide", I don't think we should be throwing out our television sets just yet. Having spent a day reviewing what the Internet has to offer in terms of TV content, I am distinctly unimpressed.

The sad thing is that what is lacking is simply content rather than technology or infrastructure. There are all sorts of players and codecs that would make this sort of thing possible. My internet connection is pretty fast, and I'm not totally adversed to a little bit of waiting around if the end result is worthwhile. I'd be quite happy, for example, to follow the video podcast model and download something for later viewing - it doesn't have to be live streaming. Right now though there simply isn't anything worth downloading. Whilst iTunes touts that it sells television shows, the UK store didn't actually seem to have any. I also had a look at Democracy, and have in the past also tried out the Internet TV you get through Shoutcast / WinAmp.

The content that is available through these channels is generally just trailers for something you've got to then get hold of in a conventional format, or little amateur one man band productions on obscure topics, which, if we are to term them "pioneering" does not bode well for the future of Internet TV. To my surprise there didn't seem to be any sites which offered legal movie downloads for anything but a handful of obscure films I really wasn't interested in.

OK, yes there are all sorts of illegal routes to get TV and movie content off the internet, but as a broadcast industry professional I feel I have a commitment even over and above that of a normal citizen, and I just refuse to go consider that.

So here is the crying shame - I am willing, even happy, to pay for content. I have a fast connection, plenty of storage space, and I don't mind waiting, I'm even happy to turn a blind eye a little bit if the quality isn't up to much. I am basically sitting here thinking "please take my money!", and yet there seems to be absolutely no service on the web in a position to meet my requirements.

There's a good chance the situation will change significantly over the next year, but right now Internet TV is simply not worth wasting the effort on.

Comment 1

Have you seen ( obviously not form Japan) but sky tv do a neat little

Basically, you use your subscription login and can download a variety of movies or sports programmes that are currently playing on sky movies or sport.

They are typically 5-800Mb in size mpeg4 and pretty good quality. They are DRMed so once downloaded you get them for a bout 30 days before they 'expire'.

Sky uses a Flash host control to run the movies, it quite slick, HOWEVER they use a p2p client - Kontiki I think to distribute the films, so once they've seeded its the punters that shift the data using their own infrastructure and bandwidth costs.

Posted by Kev at 2006/07/17 15:50:58.

Comment 2

Good to hear that from a professional, John! I wondered if it was just me, missing something!

iTunes in the US sells all those TV programmes - not the UK for licencing reasons. I found a stray link to some "Monk" episodes on the UK store at one time. I tried to buy one but was stymied (spelling?) at the final button press.

We will just have to wait, I suspect.

Posted by Nigel at 2006/07/17 15:51:22.

Comment 3

Also, have you checked out youtube, theres shiteloads of crap on there like;

Posted by kev at 2006/07/17 15:53:19.

Comment 4

John: You told me that broadcasters are very jelaous of their shows, that they don't want to allow people to record them on a VCR or HD (talking about HDTV)... Maybe they just don't want to make contents available because they'll lose a lot of money from adverts, and they cannot afford to do that quite yet I think... Am I far off mark thinking that?

Posted by Lox at 2006/07/17 23:00:22.

Comment 5

Yea I have seen youtube and in a similar vein Google Video - both, so far as I could tell, full of complete crap.

Yet again, some very smart technology (particularly Google Video) is let down by simply having no content worth watching.

I'm sure this situation can not last for long though - all the components are there, the demand, the infrastructure, the technology. If there isn't a worldwide iTunes style site for downloading movies in one year's time, then something is definitely wrong!

Posted by John at 2006/07/18 04:31:03.

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