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The future of TV: From broadcast to broadband

TV is undergoing a massive revolution that will change how and what we will watch over the coming years.

“Good evening and welcome to television.”

It was with these words that presenter Bruce Gyngell ushered in the dawn of a new era for Australians back in 1956.

Since then, we have witnessed the rise of new stations, switch to colour, ability to record shows, introduction of pay TV and the expansion of our favourite networks to include two or more additional digital channels a piece.

TV is a huge part of daily life for the majority of Australians. And it is currently experiencing its biggest ever upheaval. 

A digital evolution

In the 1980s, VCRs hit the mainstream, making it possible to record a show to watch later. From the late 90s, DVDs entered the fray, upping the quality and helping to drive the desire for bigger, clearer TV sets.

Fast forward to the 2010s and beyond. Many of us have the ability to pause and rewind live TV, can schedule content to record through digital devices such as Foxtel and TiVo, have large screen TVs and own our fair share of TV shows and films on Blu-ray.

If we forget to record what we want, we can visit an online catch-up service and watch the game, the nightly news or the big season finale in our own time.

Advances in digital technology have seen the internet become a more popular destination for viewers looking for their favourite shows and content. According to BI Intelligence’s ‘Future of Television Report’, TV is now defined as something that can be watched on any device, be it a traditional TV set, a mobile, a laptop or a tablet. 

From broadcast to broadband

Instead of sitting at home to watch the football, thousands of Australians now stream a match to an internet enabled device via a subscription based service.

Somebody looking to catch up on their favourite series can potentially do so all at once by switching on Netflix, Stan, ABC iView or another streaming platform.

Fans of everything from documentaries to reality to Australian-only content can find show after show online.

So what does this mean for television?  

Greater access to fast broadband will see trends move towards streaming content rather than watching it on TV. Viewers have better flexibility and are able to download or stream episodes thanks to the way streaming services are structured.

No more rushing to make it home for a particular show. Watching TV is becoming a matter of downloading an app and pressing play.

For those who enjoy the big screen, a plug-in device like Apple TV or Google Chromecast can make the streaming experience an easier one, or can even turn a traditional TV into a ‘smart’ one. 

What’s next for television?

Many consumer analysts and futurists have been working on a definitive answer to this question. Television is in a huge transition phase, with the pendulum swinging away from our traditional viewing habits.

While there’s no doubt that people still want to watch TV, it is the way they are consuming it that is changing. More and more, we expect our content to be diverse, high quality and available on demand.

According to the same study by BI Intelligence, the future of television is a medium that will be digital, social and cross platform. Viewers will be looking to stream content from dedicated services, having already demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium to be free from advertisements and watch on demand.

Traditional, or so-called ‘linear TV’, still very much has its place in the houses of Australians. For the time being we can add to this experience with a subscription to a streaming service that provides shows and movies on demand. Our connected devices are already playing a major role in this multi-platform experience, and will continue to do so.

Over the next five to ten years, along with increased access to fast broadband, consumers can expect more content to become available over streaming platforms. We can perhaps also look forward to our viewing experiences being enhanced by 360 degree video and the introduction of virtual reality headsets into the mainstream.

Television sets will not lose their place in our living rooms. However, the way we consume content on them will continue to evolve, even as TVs themselves will improve to offer a clearer, more-connected experience with a focus on interactivity as viewers become accustomed to controlling their own viewing schedules. 

Video streaming is increasing in popularity at a rapid pace. Check out how much data video streaming uses so that you can keep across your data as your viewing habits change.

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