Friday, April 20, 2007
Another factor that's increasing the popularity of computers as home entertainment system components is the greater access to video over the Internet. Free video sites like YouTube and Google Videos are making it more and more common to download videos over the Internet. Many major TV networks are also making their news casts and popular TV shows available to watch online (complete with commercials). Apple's iTunes is even getting on the online video bandwagon by providing access to select TV shows and movies in exchange for a download fee.
This popularity with online video has caused some to anticipate the death of broadcast TV. After all, being able to download video over the web is convenient in terms of timing and more efficient in the sense that you may be able to pay to get commercial free versions of programs and only pay for the programming that you want. At least that's Bill Gates' reasoning behind his prediction that normal TV will be extinct in five years because it will be killed off by Internet TV.
TV industry analyst Phillip Swann disagrees though. While he does recognize the benefits and resulting impact of Internet video, he also points out that HDTV is going to become increasingly popular in the coming years, while it's not going to get much easier to download HDTV over the Internet during that same time frame. As a result of that, many people will stick with normal TV services like satellite for HDTV while they might still watch standard definition video on computers.
While both experts have their points, it's also important to recognize that the majority of people who watch TV don't have access to a good enough Internet connection or the computer equipment necessary to download and watch videos. That alone will make normal TV survive. HDTV is just icing on the cake.