Sunday, August 05, 2007
Video on demand services are also available through satellite TV providers and Comcast, and this is one area in which Comcast's cable TV technology is far superior to the satellite TV version. That's because satellite TV just isn't that versatile when it comes to video on demand. With satellite TV's video on demand services, the video has to be downloaded to the satellite receiver and stored on the satellite receiver's hard drive. Then, when the satellite TV viewer orders a video, the satellite TV provider "unlocks" the copy of the video that's stored on the receiver's hard drive so that the viewer can watch it. Because of this system, the number of video on demand selections available through a satellite TV service is limited to whatever can fit on the satellite receiver's hard drive at any given time.
Comcast takes a much more dynamic approach to video on demand technology. Basically, Comcast stores all of its video on demand selections on server computers in its programming transmission centers. When a Comcast subscriber chooses a video clip from a list of archived video files, Comcast can then send that video over the cable directly to the viewer's digital receiver which will then display that video on the TV screen. This system is much better than the one employed by the satellite TV industry because it makes a much wider variety of video available to choose from.
Comcast has also developed the technology needed to hold its own in the area of normal TV service as well. It will be using a new technology called Switched Digital Video in order to make better use of the bandwidth that it has available to it so that it can deliver a lot more channels. Switched Digital Video is similar to Comcast's approach to video on demand in that it delivers the specific channel that the viewer wants to watch at any given time, rather than all of the channels all of the time. This promises to expand the programming Comcast offers far beyond the limitations that cable TV has had an unfortunate reputation of.