What is TV streaming and what you need to get started.
19:25 30 May 2017
Long gone are the days when you had to wait for a whole week to go by to get another glimpse of your favourite TV character, or dig out your DVD rental membership card before you could nestle into your sofa for watching a film.
Enter the era of TV streaming where people watch all of their favorite content whenever they want wherever they want.
If latest research reports are anything to go by, there are around 6 million subscribers in the UK who now use streaming subscription services to watch their favorite movies, box sets, live sports, and everything that is available for streaming online.
The evolution of television since its humble black and white beginnings has been nothing short of amazing. Throughout a transformational journey comprising of a spate of crucial changes, we are navigating through some key shifts that ultimately affect the way content is produced and consumed.
And now in the age of digital technology we are going through a dynamic shift that is all set to make television much more powerful than one could imagine: TV Streaming.
Here is everything you need to know about TV streaming.
What is TV Streaming?
Put simply, streaming lets you watch content on the web instantaneously. All you need is a solid internet connection and a device to stream stuff on- and you’re all set.
Although many people stream movies and shows on their tablets, smart phones, and other handheld devices, streaming on TV is a different experience altogether that can completely redefine the way you look at living room entertainment. Contrary to popular belief that smart phones, mobile devices and other small screens are eating into the largest screen, most Britons still think television is the king of all home entertainment devices.
Stat Alert: Recent research suggests that about 98% of the TV the viewer watched in 2016 was on the big screen.
In fact, TV streaming, over the last decade or so, has grown at a remarkable rate, proving it is possibly one of the best instant forms of entertainment in this digital era. Not only has it made a shift in the way people watch television in their living room, but, more importantly, it also has encouraged people to keep up with the growing trend of enjoying video on demand. Those who were previously hopeless about cord cutting are now pretty excited to stream movies because they appreciate the ability to watch what you want at your convenient time.
Key Advantages of TV Streaming
First things first, watching TV online has a definite cost advantage. The rise of streaming subscription services and internet based services provides a lot of people with more alternatives to the common pricey packages and bundles of channels sold by traditional media companies.
Choice of Content
Another thing that is worth mentioning is the choice of content. The rise of subscription video on demand services has meant that the users continue to enjoy an ever expanding library of titles. In addition to timeless classics, streaming giants such as Netflix keep rolling out fresh offerings in order to keep their customers amused.
TV Streaming Landscape: Products and Services
The streaming market is growing day by day into a bigger version of itself, giving room for more and more products and services to come up.
What can I stream with?
From streaming media players to smart streaming sticks, the market has a host of different kinds of products that help stream content on to your TV.
You don’t have to spend some money on buying a new television just for Smart TV capabilities anymore, as you’ll find most of them packaged right into a range of set top boxes, disc players, digital video recorders and gaming consoles.
Whilst there are some differences in the way they perform, they fall into two broad categories: streaming media boxes and streaming sticks.
Let’s look at streaming media players briefly.
Streaming Media Players
As the name indicates, these are dedicated devices that can give your living room a smart overhaul by streaming media to your television via an internet connection or from a computer or any other device that can be hooked up to it.
A typical media player comes with a box, a dedicated remote with special buttons, batteries and cords. Media players like the AppyTV are popular because they are easy to use, well designed, and provide quick access to a large number of apps- and all of that comes at an affordable price.
Need some extra features over and above streaming smarts? There are many devices that suit your needs but you may have to fork over some extra cash.
With the boom in digital home entertainment comes tiny streaming sticks to make your ordinary TV into something extraordinary.
Streaming sticks do everything their bigger cousins do but they come in a tiny package- so small that they can be popped in the back of the TV. Ideal companions for people who are always on the go, these smart streaming devices can be grabbed for a bargain.
Bear in mind that these devices come with dedicated HDMI ports to send audio and video to your television, which will be a bit of an issue if you are looking to make a smart TV out of your old TV that doesn’t have HDMI ports on the back. That being said, they are definitely worth looking into if you are looking to add streaming capabilities to your bog standard HD TV set.
What content can I stream?
Movies. Box sets. Music. Videos. Everything.
With the right streaming set up, you can stream anything you want wherever you want.
Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc are not the same anymore. In addition to offering a huge selection of movies and shows, these companies are now producing unmatched original content thus eating through box office queues, and luring a horde of viewers away from old terrestrial TV channels run by giant media conglomerates.
When these services first burst onto the picture they had a huge selection of everything but of late they have been weeding out older titles and putting a lot of money into movies that are produced in house, original shows etc. While the total number of titles continues to grow, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of new category of movies and shows and a dip in the number of older titles.
And that is enough proof that firms like Netflix and Amazon will continue to grow fast while being a revolutionary force in the transformation of the digital entertainment market.
What type of internet connection is best for TV streaming?
For starters, the answer to this question might seem pretty straightforward- the fastest connection, right?
The key determiner of the quality of streaming is nothing but buffering. If the buffering isn’t good, you may find some lag or stuttering between the streaming server and your TV.
One would just take it for granted that a faster internet connection would mean faster buffering. If only things were that simple in the broadband world.
Bandwidth- As you would know, one common way most internet service providers measure broadband speed is by bandwidth. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that your connection can upload or download at any one time.
A 16Mbps internet connection will be able to download 2 mega bytes of data each second- which may not be quite enough to HD stream anything onto your TV. Let’s take Netflix for example. For Netflix’s to work properly, it requires a basic minimum speed of 5 Mbps for 720p streams and 8 Mbps or higher for 1080p streaming.
While a typical cable/DSL connection can provide you such speeds, slower internet connections may present unwanted problems in the form of playback issues, because some web services are programmed to decrease video quality so that there is uninterrupted playback.
Good speed and high bandwidth make a lot of sense considering that streaming content without buffering is what consumers expect from a fast broadband connection.
Latency- There’s more to it than sheer bandwidth though. Make no mistake, bandwidth is certainly key, particularly when it comes to streaming high quality streams. But a connection that boasts of very low latency is also quite important.
Telling a streaming server that you want a good piece of that HD video stream requires certain signals to go back and forth your streaming device. Latency refers to the time taken for the signal to pass from source to destination and then back to the source- i.e. the time it takes for the signal from the streaming server to reach your streaming box, and vice versa.
There’s not a lot of talk about latency in the telecom companies and amongst the consumers, but it is basically what can make streaming videos a lot faster.
Connection type is also one of the key factors that need to be considered. Whilst VDSL connections built over copper wires can promise to offer high bandwidth, they do suffer from higher latency and slower data transfer than fiber networks.
Fibre connections are the best but then they aren’t available in all places in the UK yet. If you don’t own a fiber connection, cable or VDSL is a better option than your plain old ADSL internet connection. Once fiber connections are available, you won’t have much to bicker about your streaming experience.
To sum up, you will need good speeds, high bandwidth and robust connection type to do high definition TV streaming justice.
Key Points about Your Internet Connection
•The most important thing to consider is that you need a reliable broadband connection that is good enough for uninterrupted streaming. Your broadband connection should be fast and stable or else you will face continual buffering issues regularly.
•And if you are enjoying a capped internet service that comes with a specific download limit, you could risk incurring some surprise costs for going over the agreed limit and find yourselves paying a staggering amount once you have exceeded one over the monthly cap. You don’t want an expensive addition to your broadband bill, do you?
•Sit down and think about what type of internet user you are. Broadband packages with high speed and unlimited download cap can be the right choice for power users. Not a power user? A basic package with limited features may better suit your requirements and can be a cheaper alternative to an unlimited package. So if you are certain you are never going to go over the limit, basic packages could come in handy.
Where does TV Streaming go from here?
While it is difficult to predict just how effective these services will be, there is a great demand for them.
Even experts agree, to an extent. They think that there’s a fast growing need for more services as the way TV content is consumed changes drastically.
In fact, they say it is not surprising any longer to see more and more people shy away from usual ways of watching television such as satellite and cable, and embrace subscription services to make the most of the advantages on offer.
TV streaming may be way behind conventional programming at the moment but it is gaining ground. Definitely. Expensive fees structure, not-so-smart bundling of channels, poor choice of content are some reasons that are driving consumers away from satellite and cable packages, and, as a result, more and more people have started thinking about switching over to the web video mode.
And this is not just a fad that would peter out the way the hover board did. This is something different.
Maybe this is the beginning of a long term fundamental shift in TV viewing habits where consumers are going to be able to choose what they want to watch at their convenient time.
There you have it. The future of web video and streaming is going to be big. Many new possibilities are pretty likely if the streaming companies continue to evolve in tandem with changing consumer habits. And the biggest screen in your living room has a role to play in that.
Think about giving your TV a smart upgrade and get streaming today.