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CONTENT The evolution of TV to the bus, train and park bench by John Mills, VISION247 S A digital revolution ince the not-quite-fully-electric late nineteenth century, televi- sion has been evolving. The first major, modern change to the way people experienced TV was when technology enabled them to decide when they were going to watch the programmes they wanted to watch. VHS recorders and then DVD players revolutionised the at-home experience of watching movies and gave peo- ple the ability to watch TV shows in box-set format, allowing for the now popular marathon watching pastime. In this new digital age services like Sky+ and digital Freeview recorders gave people the ability to record live TV themselves, in DVD quality and watch it whenever they liked. At the same time, a new digital video content revolution was occurring in the form of portable video devices. Devices like the Archos AV series and the Apple 5th generation iPod gave consumers small screens to watch video on the go. What put these devices at the centre of a portable media revolution was the availability of music and video on websites like Apple’s iTunes. Not only was it a popular format with consumers, but the Digital Rights Management (DRM) imposed by Apple made the formula popular with distributors, eventually making the iTunes store the biggest digital vendor in the world. A location solution The availability of almost ubiquitous high-speed WI-FI is the foundation for the widespread availability of video on-demand (VOD) and over- the-top (OTT) streaming services. 54 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 90 JUNE 2014 Companies like Netfl ix and, more recently Amazon, have developed massive online streaming libraries. With the ability to give customers better prices, availability and selection, these companies have destroyed the retail DVD rental industry. Popularity and awareness of these services has also increased due to deals made to distribute TV shows internationally. AMC’s popular series ‘Breaking Bad’ was made available to subscribers of Netfl ix U.K. the day after it was aired in the U.S. Not only did this coincide with a massive boost in the ratings for the show, but by allowing U.K. residents to watch the show so soon after its release, Netfl ix saw a huge boost in its own subscribers. These formulas are an effective monetisation of TV shows and also more than likely reduce the amount of illegal downloading. They are also a modern industry growth cycle. As the show becomes more popular, so does the video platform and vice versa. These types of social developments have caused a creative destruction of the home-video industry into a completely online infrastructure. The speed of the internet and the availability of low-cost tablets and mobile devices have resulted in a second major change to consumer video. Not only do consumers want to watch video when they want to watch it, they also want to watch it where they want. Tablet sales are widely predicted to outpace laptop sales by the end of 2015 and many people buy them instead of a second TV, as a more affordable, more portable entertainment solution. The lines between mobile phones and tablets are also blurring, as 5 inch, high defi nition screens become the norm amongst manufacturers. A mobile evolution With the release of 4G mobile internet, more mobile phone users are watching video on their handsets. A study by Strategy Analytics found 72% of mobile users in the U.S, China, France, Germany, Spain and the U.K regularly watched video on their devices. Widespread 4G coverage has given users the ability to stream video reliably, without the need to wait for long buffering times. This fact alone has given mobile network operators a reason to get their customers to upgrade to 4G. At the moment, however, the network operators do not have a great deal in terms of video content to offer. So for customers who already subscribe to OTT services like Netfl ix, 4G availability is great, but how will