Thursday, July 26, 2007
There are a number of technological reasons why this is true, but basically they all come down to bandwidth. The Internet has limited bandwidth to deliver data intensive things like video, and with the growing popularity of HDTV Televisions. HD Television Programming is the most data intensive form of video currently in existence- normal TV transmission technology will be the mode of choice for watching TV.
While this is great news to all of the cable TV companies and satellite TV companies out there, it's bad news for all of the various companies that are offering Internet video downloads and set top boxes designed to take advantage of those downloads. These set top boxes- which include the Apple TV, the Vudu video downloading device, and some models of TiVo DVR's - rely on the Internet as a source of video. Actually if these devices are any indication Mr. Cuban's predictions could be pretty accurate. For example, while the Apple TV is capable of displaying high definition video, it can only display video resolutions up to 720p which is the bare minimum for video to be considered high definition. Also, although the Apple TV can handle 720p video, iTunes- the primary source of video for the Apple TV- still doesn't offer any movies in 720p.
Vudu also has its share of problems. While the Vudu can display HDTV resolutions, it gets around the bandwidth difficulties of transmitting HDTV programming over the Internet by receiving programming in standard definition and then upconverting it into High Definition resolutions. The effect is reported to be a grainy and blurry picture that may technically be HDTV, but really isn't worth bothering with.
While these technological shortcomings suggest that current Internet technology might not be ready to transmit HDTV, the assessment that video downloads aren't any threat to normal TV service ignores one possibility. That possibility is that there might be a segment of the population that is willing to sacrifice video resolution for the conveniences that come with downloading video over an Internet connection. This would of course be a niche market, but there's undoubtedly a type of TV viewer out there who would be willing to use Internet video downloads as a kind of video on demand service. These people would be light watchers of TV who find it cheaper and more convenient to pay for a few downloads of their favorite TV shows every month than it would be to pay for a monthly satellite or cable TV subscription. While this might be a small market it definitely exists. Plus it's only encouraged by the spread of portable video devices and easy to obtain software that makes watching video downloads on computers easy.
While it's clearly true that video downloads won't hurt the overall TV market, it will definitely create new niche markets as well.
Internet Video Technology Creates Niche Market One thing that some people wonder about when they think about how new types of technology will influence how we watch TV in the future is how much of a threat online video will have on normal TV. According to Mark Cuban, the founder of HDNet, the answer is not much. Apparently, despite the fact that Internet video is growing in popularity, the general consensus in the TV industry is that online video is a complementary source of entertainment rather than a competing form of entertainment and that will be true for the foreseeable future. There are a number of technological reasons why this is true, but basically they all come down to bandwidth. The Internet has limited bandwidth to deliver data intensive things like video, and with the growing popularity of HDTV Televisions. HD Television Programming is the most data intensive form of video currently in existence- normal TV transmission technology will be the mode of choice for watching TV.