The new phenomenon to hit the UK this year will be downloading TV content via the internet, according to the site uSwitch.com.
The daily quotation heard throughout homes every day of ‘what’s on tonight?’ will be replaced by ‘what shall we watch tonight?’as the emergence of IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) lets people choose their own TV schedules. This could sound the end of high street video stores, with uSwitch predicting these stores to be extinct by 2008.
On February 20th 2007 Virgin launched Virgin Central; its free on-demand TV Channel, offering a selection of shows from Virgin Media’s full on-demand library. Virgin Media also signed an on-demand content deal with Warner Bros and have agreed to carry HBO’s subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service.
The launch of this service will revolutionise the way 3 million of its customers watch TV, using ‘on-demand’ technology to provide customers with instant access to programmes at any time day or night. However presently no ITV or Channel 5 shows are available on Virgin Central, but apparently negotiations are on-going.
Sky are ready for battle with Virgin as it gets ready to launch its ‘Sky Anytime’ product, already available to PCs and mobiles, to TV sets.
Currently the average UK browser is spending 30 minutes a week downloading films and a further 23 minutes a week watching TV online – however this is just the tip of the iceberg as the nation eagerly anticipates major communications providers bringing IPTV into mainstream over the coming months.
Channel 4, BBC and soon-to-launch ITV, already transfer TV content straight to a PC over a customer’s broadband connection. The benefits of IPTV to customers is evident, with an extensive amount of choice and relatively low cost. Films start at 99p making them immediately cheaper than high street stores plus there is the comfort in not having to leave your sofa.
However it is important to know how large your download limit is with your provider as some packages limit downloads to 2Gb per month which can almost be used up with 2 movies with the average 2 hour film sized around 900Mb.
All of Virgins packages however have unlimited downloads thus avoiding this problem. This new technology will change the way we watch TV forever, thus personalising the experience and ending the days of having nothing to watch.
For Virgin Media customers, they can go to channel 119, press one button, and by following the simple on-screen guide can access hours of programmes and content at any time, day or night. they can pause, fast-forward, rewind etc. just like a stand DVD player.