How live streaming is changing what we watch

Improving internet infrastructure and fast broadband speeds are changing not only the way we watch, but what we watch.

As of December 2016, 2,223,000 Australian households had a Netflix account. That’s a huge portion of Australia in just under two years of operation.

It’s an incredible uptake, especially when you consider that Netflix is only one of many TV subscriptions now available to Australian consumers.

It’s no surprise that the age of fast, more-accessible internet such as via the nbn™ network is bringing with it on-demand entertainment like we’ve never experienced it before. So it should also be no surprise that audiences are moving in that direction in droves.

Broadcast commercial TV still remains the go-to entertainment option for most Australians, but it’s seeing a decline in use.

Between 2008 and 2015, the number of Australians who never watch commercial TV more than doubled to 14.9%, mostly driven by younger demographics. The 14 to 24 (down 3.3%), 25 to 34 (down 0.8%) and 35 to 49 (down 2.4%) brackets are shifting to internet streaming of both live and programmed online TV.

But there’s more to this movement than just audience share. Some content on the internet is not restricted by the same regional, advertising, licensing, language or even classification barriers of local Australian broadcast TV.

It’s also not constrained by a need to exist in a genre, or have a theme, that can find a big audience in a small territory. Available to the entire world, concepts considered too niche for popular broadcast TV are casting such a wide net they can catch plenty of eyeballs and succeed online.

This has enabled a new era of entertainment, and with fast-internet accessibility, a more connected Australia is discovering a whole new world of live TV. Alongside everyone else on the planet, we can watch on as it – whatever it is – happens.

Every kind of genre and theme you might imagine is available, but here are seven broad categories to get you thinking, and searching, on the internet right now.

Seven great live TV program categories

Video Gaming

It should come as no surprise that video gaming has been a forerunner in the live TV, internet streaming revolution.

Modern gaming is a constantly connected experience, and the demographic has grown up on the frontline of the internet since it went mainstream in the early nineties.

The rise of competitive gaming – called eSports – has driven Live TV steaming like no other category.

As far back as 2013, one of the biggest competitive games, League of Legends, attracted 32 million viewers during that year’s championship season, including 8.2 million concurrently at its peak.

While a single player of the game, Faker, has attracted 245,100 concurrent viewers on just his own personal stream through the service Twitch. You can watch almost any game currently available being played live, right now.

Niche sports

Sport is always filmed, but very little of it actually filters through to Australian broadcast TV screens. Regardless of whether you are into a niche sport or simply want to watch your team play in an international domestic league every week, the internet is your friend.

Most leagues will offer some form of streaming service, usually with a subscription cost, so you can tune in and watch games live from anywhere in the world.

Even Australians abroad can do that to watch local AFL and Rugby League games as they unfold. Just keep in mind that, if you’re streaming from another country, there are a number of factors that may result in reduced video quality.

Concerts

The days of having to be bashed around in the moshpit and queue for hours to go to the toilet are numbered thanks to concert live streams. While nothing will ever be as good as being there, limited tickets and geographical isolation make it impossible for most to attend.

Thankfully, live streaming of large scale festivals, benefit concerts, comedy shows, theatre productions, single performances and more are a reality.

Often you can tune in to a stage and watch on not only through the performance, but also during gaps, sound checks and all the rest. HD streaming can ensure the audio quality is surprisingly good, too.

Conferences

From Apple to TED and even a speech from the manager at your favourite football club, the conference speech – or as it is sometimes known, keynote – is no longer exclusively experienced by in situ journalists.

If you know when a conference is occurring, chances are you can tune in and watch it unfold live. Even if it goes for hours.

Larger, multi-day, multi-stage events like PAX AUS frequently have online programs you can check, too, detailing what sessions will be streamed and when so you know when to tune in.

Check in and check out viewing

You’ll be surprised by how many strange and wonderful events are constantly being streamed online. Much like Big Brother all those years ago, whenever you are free you can just take a look and see what is happening.

It could be a famous surf break like Pipeline in Hawaii. It could be an animal enclosure at a zoo, where you can watch their behaviour during all hours of the day. Or a busy urban centre like Times Square. One of our favourites is NASA’s live feed of the Earth from space.

Elsewhere there is a live feed from a chapel in Las Vegas, one of Loch Ness, an African watering hole, the Abbey Road zebra crossing… we could go on

Amateurs turned pro

Anyone with a camera can start a live feed in our wonderingly modern, connected world. If you turn on Instagram, Periscope or Facebook, with the tap of a button you can join in on anyone’s little adventure as it is happening.

You can even talk to them and get them to show you specific activities. However, there are also indie channels run by amateurs that have grown so popular, they’ve basically become professional live TV channels.

If you search for results around a certain niche, like cooking or travel, you will find something pure and fresh to enjoy.

Across languages

One final service streaming live TV over the internet can offer that is vitally important to many Australians is those that occur in a foreign language.

Whether it be keeping up with the local sports of another country or catching up on the latest news, streaming services are available for just about any native tongue in the world.

Speaking of languages, have you seen the huge number of ways you can learn a new language online?