The end of TV as we know it.

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Commentary on the status of TV.

How do you watch TV?  By that I mean what is the source of the TV programming you watch?  If you are a broadband TV subscriber like about 85% of the U.S. population you get your TV via a bundled group of TV channels from a cable or satellite company.  That divides up as roughly 52% cable and 33% satellite.  (These numbers change daily and are only approximate but they do show the trend.)  And by the way, you pay dearly for that service.  That is where I get most of my TV and the cable/satellite companies have most of us locked in.  But that is changing. The basic trend, although gradual, is that more viewers are dropping cable TV for Internet-based TV.

Another interesting statistic from the Consumer Electronics Association is that only 7% of U.S households get their TV over the air (OTA) by an antenna directly from a local TV broadcast station.  That percentage of OTA viewers keeps declining each year.  A Nielsen study in 2012 indicated 9% OTA down from 16% in 2003.  The rabbit ear business has got to be in real trouble.  That is also bad news for the broadcast networks who receive payment from the cable companies to carry the broadcast channels.  The recent CBS-Time Warner (TW) dispute has CBS asking more than TW wants to pay so TW drops the channel.  This hurts all parties including the consumer. 

Incidentally, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) disputes the 7% OTA figure.  Their own survey by some group called Gfk says the OTA crowd is really 19.3% of households.  Big difference.  Wonder which one is correct?  Regardless of who is right, the OTA percentage is shrinking.  No wonder the FCC wants to capture back some of that prime broadcast TV spectrum for cell phone and other wireless use at an auction next year.  And it should be no surprise that the white space (unused TV channels) wireless broadband movement is growing.

Despite these OTA figures a company called Aereo recently started a service to stream OTA local signals to any device over the Internet.  Aereo picks up the signals and sends them to your cell phone or tablet via Wi-Fi and the Internet.  You buy DVR space on their servers so can store and watch programs later.  Their service now covers only the major cities but more are on the way.  You can get the usual ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS and a few others. And it is a lot cheaper than cable.  What happens to Aereo as broadcasts fade away even more?

According to the figures above, the percentage of Internet TV must be about 8%.  But that is not correct as another survey says that about 28% of TV households get Internet TV.  That means many are using both cable/satellite and the Internet.  The survey indicates about 4% Internet-only homes.

The big winner in all this is the over the top (OTT) TV movement.  That means Internet TV sources like NetFlix, Hulu, YouTube and others.  So many of you are using accessories like TiVo, Apple TV and Roku to get OTT TV on the big screen.  I have a Roku box that streams TV from my Wi-Fi network to my HDTV set.  It works great.  It is a pleasure to be able to select a movie or TV show I want when I want to watch it. 

The younger population (ages 18-24) is big on Internet TV watching. Nielsen says that most U.S. households watch 34 hours of TV per week on average only about an hour (3%) of which is OTT.  That is nearly 5 hours a day.  What else in your life other than sleep or work takes up that much time?  No wonder TV drives our thoughts, opinions and viewpoints.  Heavy.  Anyway the 18 to 24 year olds only average 23 hours of TV a week but a greater percentage of it (10%) is from the Internet.  The OTT percentage is increasing.

Another interesting phenomenon is YouTube.  This Google property gets millions of views per day and even millions per views of some episodes.  I have heard that the popular viral Korean Gangman dance video got well over a billion views so far.  While most of the YouTube video is short personal stuff (babies, kittens, and stupid stuff) some of it is commercial. Many new music groups have achieved their success by launching songs on YouTube bypassing the commercial music business.  Overall YouTube video is widely consumed.  And more and more of it is via smartphone or tablet.  YouTube is so successful they recently started to divide the business into channels and to begin developing more formal programming.  But anyone can still post videos any time.  A really unexpected TV success.

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and others are trying to find a way to monetize video for their businesses.  Google’s latest attempt to build on their video success is the announcement of the Chromecast.  The Chromecast is a device that looks like a USB drive and plugs into an HDMI port on your TV.  It then links up to your Wi-Fi network so that it can stream video from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen.  The apps are compatible with both Android and Apple OSs.  It only handles NetFlix and YouTube now but look for more sources in the near future.  The device only costs $35 so should be pretty popular.  It too will probably affect how we watch TV.

The trends seem very clear.  Less cable and satellite TV and the virtual disappearance of OTA TV.  Internet TV is the new winner.  The cable companies may morph into Internet-only service providers and try to control (boost) broadband connection rates to offset the loss of cable subscribers.  Maybe that is the reason Google is trying to roll out its fiber services over the U.S.  Now if only the movie and TV production companies will turn loose of their shows for wider Internet distribution, this trend will increase faster. 

I only wish we could get better quality material.  In my opinion, most TV content is pure crud, insipid and worthless.  Yet I guess it is entertaining and I guess that is what TV is for.  We entertain ourselves nearly 5 hours a day with this drivel.  Why aren’t we all out being more productive at something else? Have you tried reading or conversation lately?  Are we really that lazy?  I am sure the purveyors of video are happy that we are?

Discuss this Blog Entry 27

on Aug 7, 2013

1. You are correct. TV is targeted at a 6th grade level. Some of us find that incipid. 2. The entire entertainment industry (which I have worked in) is doing VERY well financially (at the corporate level). One might call it robbery. 3. Why should broadcasters be getting any money from cable companies? The cable companies are giving them more viewers to sell to their advertisers. The broadcasters ought to be paying for those. And if OTA goes to 0, it will save the broadcasters quite a bit on electricity and equipment. 4. The good news is that once again, the internet is leveling the playing field, in some cases (such as the music groups cited) completely bypassing the well heeled entertainment corporations--yea for the little guy. Of course big corporations are going to try to tap into that as quickly as they can.

on Aug 17, 2013

Kids and elderly do not watch TV with all the junks commercials in hundred channels and stop drinking water sugars. Emails and non-stop talks on the phones and couch potatoes are over. They do have better activities to do. Time has changed and people changes with time.
OTA is much about hobby. It is more effective to get your tablets and smartphones.

on Sep 4, 2013

That would be unfortunate. We cut our TV cable service to save $70/month with OTA. We are between 2 major markets - Milwaukee and Green Bay, and enjoy reception of roughly 50 free TV channels. We supplement this with internet services, such as Netflix and YouTube. I think the survey of OTA viewers should be once again reviewed, as I have seen a number of new antennas on rooftops in our area. I believe this ongoing rotten economy will drive more to OTA TV viewing.

on Aug 7, 2013

There is only so much quality programs to watch. The so-called "golden era" of television in the fifties/sixties had great material. But with the coming of UHF, cable, satellites, and now Internet, there really hasn't been a proportionate amount of good programs available. Only so much "great" television programs can be produced.

on Aug 8, 2013

What I find interesting is that most TV stations have OTA broadcasts considering how few viewers actually watch OTA broadcasts. A few years ago I attended a speaking engagement. The speaker was the chief engineer for one of the Boston TV stations. He brought the point home about how few viewers that still use OTA: one of their rival TV stations in the area suffered a failure of their OTA transmitter which put them off the air for a number of days. However they only received one viewer complaint because most of their other viewers received their signal via cable or satellite, meaning they knew nothing about the OTA transmitter being off-line. (Locally the signal from that station is distributed to the cable MSOs via fiber and to the rest of the nation via a satellite uplink - it's one of the so-called 'superstations' offered by cable systems and satellite providers.) Keeping a TV transmitter on the air takes a lot of money, between equipment maintenance and electricity costs. If the need to keep an OTA transmitter goes away, the operating costs plummet and the capital equipment expenditures needed to keep it operating disappear. When all viewers received the signal OTA, either directly or indirectly, the transmitter operating cost per viewer was relatively low. But now that a very large majority receive it through cable or satellite, the cost per viewer for OTA has skyrocketed. It would almost be cheaper to pay those who do not subscribe to cable/satellite to get a subscription than to keep their OTA transmitters on the air.

on Aug 8, 2013

So where do these internet TV families get their internet connection? And what does that cost them?

on Aug 8, 2013

I watch most of my TV over the air. Tonight I am watching the ABC shows from WMAR in Baltimore because WJLA in Washington is showing some stupid Redskins preseason football game. The cable system doesn't carry the Baltimore stations but I can receive them clearly over the air. The people who took down their antennas when they got cable don't have that kind of choice.

The only reason I have cable TV at all is because the cost of fiber optic internet service by itself is just about the same as the cost of the internet/cable TV/telephone bundle, thanks to the Verizon/Comcast duopoly. And the Verizon salesman was quite impressed by the TV picture quality in my living room, he was incredulous when I told him it was coming from an antenna.

If they keep jacking up the price of cable TV and lowering the service standards, I bet a lot of people will start putting up antennas once again. This week a lot of Time Warner customers are probably rummaging around the attic to find where they put those old rabbit ears so they can get their local CBS station back.

on Aug 14, 2013

n8fgv wrote:
And the Verizon salesman was quite impressed by the TV picture quality in my living room, he was incredulous when I told him it was coming from an antenna.

An antenna should give a really good quality picture. Most cable and internet TV programming is data compressed more than broadcast in order to provide more channels, and so looks worse. Quantity overrules quality.
The worst I have seen was a (free) on demand HD movie from my cable provider (Comcast). It would break up into a blurry, pixelly mess if there was any more movement in the picture than a single mouth moving while talking. It took a good ¼ second after a pan or cut for the picture to return to nicely watchable. Overall it was a horrid experience. I saw the same movie a few months later on one of the regular cable movie channels, where it looked much better.

on Aug 9, 2013

I've just recently added OTA antennas to all of my HD sets. I get about 30 channels in my metro area... not all are interesting, but the quality of the picture far surpasses the highly compressed, thrice converted video I get off satellite. My TV picks the native broadcast resolution instead of the upconverted signal from the sat box. I also don't lose my signal every time a storm front approaches the cities. All in all, it's free, the pic is better, I get some great channels that are missing from satellite, and it's more reliable... Now all I need to do is set up a decent PC as a video server...

on Aug 13, 2013

I agree completely with whelm and Navy EE. They explain exactly why I haven't had ANY kind of TV service for years -- and haven't missed it. Navy EE is exactly correct about programming quality sinking beneath prior standards. That usually starts with the scripting, not the production -- something "Star Trek's" originator the late Gene Roddenberry understood FAR better than most entertainment writers and producers do today, the latter trying to compensate for poor screenwriting with the best CGI SFX illusions money can buy. Economically, regardless of the telecom method used, I can't justify paying for hundreds of channels my family and I have no time to watch, or content not worth watching (Internet video producers, take note). Plus, most of what we do like to watch is available gratis at the public library on DVD or BluRay -- like checking out a book. Or we buy a copy outright; a one-time purchase to limit the expense. That's a bit hard for any subscription service to compete with.

on Aug 14, 2013

Cable? What's that? Watch via internet? I haven't the patience. The only "high speed" internet connection available to me is via DSL and tops out at 1Mbps down. Mobile coverage? I have to leave the house to get even one bar of signal. I should feel lucky, since my neighbors are still using telephone modems.

I guess I'm lucky to have electricity, even though I live within a mile of a city with 140,000 population.

The whole internet infrastructure thing has been badly handled. Rather than regulators requiring carriers to expand coverage to everyone, we have a cherry-picked marketing scheme.

The US has some of the worst broadband deployment among developed nations--and apparently, doesn't care.

on Aug 14, 2013

I have three sets connected to OTA programming. I was a cable subscriber but rising costs and lack of family suitable programming convinced me to drop them. Each set has an antenna so the manufacturers need not worry yet. I'll probably add a fourth set and antenna soon. Advantages are ability to watch different channels simultaneously without bandwidth burden on the internet service. I will not pay price increases (supposedly) pass on from cable companies because of sports programming licence fees... I don't watch sports and won't pay.
BTW... isn't the statement "babies, kittens, and stupid stuff" rather redundant ?

on Aug 14, 2013

Actually, i find a use for OTA. I get most of my video from the internet (i have FTTH, and it's *way* cheaper than cable), but for those occasions when something's on Network TV, i have a set of rabbit ears since i have no other recourse. I cut the cable/sat cord years ago and haven't missed it. I *certainly* haven't missed paying them big bucks! The Internet + OTA = a good combination!

on Aug 14, 2013

I shut off cable quite a while ago, as my local company (Charter) kept raising the rates, with the explanation that more channels were being added - Spanish language channels, which were of zero interest to me. I got a rooftop antenna from Radio Shack, ran the coax down to an amplified splitter, and feed two HD TV's, two computers, and one digital converter for an old analog TV. I also have a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscription, and the free Hulu (Hulu+ is a waste of my money, so I dropped it). I also have a Roku, which is really a slick product. The comments about quality are true - OTA HD is excellent. Many of the streaming services have HD options, although some charge extra for them. The programming is the real issue - most streaming services have convoluted restrictions (read: lawyers getting rich controlling access) that prevent, for example, watching many movies and TV shows, or restrict episodes to certain seasons, or whatever. It seems that everyone is looking for ways to squeeze out every possible penny from their content (and they certainly have that right) but if OTA TV goes, we will ALL be screwed, as we will HAVE to pay for everything we watch.

on Aug 14, 2013

Gave up years ago on Satellite. Dumped Timewarner cable 4 months ago and never looked back. I have my 20 year old Radioshack antenna in the attic and watch over the internet for a change of pace. I think more people are switching back to OTA because of the continual rising cable fees. Especially the rental fees for cable boxes and modems which are ridiculous.

on Aug 14, 2013

Combined with a recent experience when I visited the USA the above comments are quite interesting. I was visiting my sister and got to wondering about her TV service and asked her how she she paid for it. Her signals come from a satellite dish marked with the name of a big name supplier and she was paying nearly $90 per month. As well described above, most of the programming I saw is generously described as "junk". For her fee there were some other services included, like display of the phone number of a caller on the TV when the phone was ringing whereas I have to look at my phone itself to see that, but for the difference in price I don't mind. Recently I switched over to a satellite system and the antenna plus receiver cost less than 100 Euro and I also pay a monthly fee to the state for the use of even radio and even only foreign broadcasters, but it is a flat rate and I can watch as much TV as my patience allows. This costs 18 Euro per month, a bit less than those $90. I receive many programs in what looks to me like full 1980 line HD and the picture quality is excellent on an 32 inch set. Furthermore, many programs are good, although it is trivial to find massive amounts of garbage including plenty of stations offering purely sales pitches. In addition, at certain times, there are broadcasts without commercials. (We also have commercial stations which deliver the programs with plenty of ads.) The price is that you may have to choose between missing a bit of a film or not getting a snack. There are no interruptions every 10 or 15 minutes.
With that lengthy introduction, the question which bothered me when I learned this, what went wrong in the USA? Besides the one-time cost of entering the system by buying the HD TV set and privately owned dish (plus installation for most persons lacking enough DIY background), the ratio of monthly costs is about 4:1. And I wonder whether the side benefit of being commercial-free is enjoyed anywhere with any regularity, even at the $90 price.
Incidentally, there are far more than 100 channels received without any extra cost, other satellites with additional selections, and many subscription or cost-per-view channels for which I have no experience to describe. Don't need them.
Is there nothing the users can do? OTA seems like a partial solution if it is preserved, but with restricted offerings. And why are the carriers allowed to use the abusive compression I was reading about above? Why aren't the costs for services regulated at a level representing the cost of delivering the service plus a reasonable profit (like the old Bell Telephone model)? The present prices do not sound like reasonable to me.
Considering what I read says the real income of Americans after inflation is decreasing for many persons, the probable overcharging is hard to excuse.

on Aug 14, 2013

We get all of our TV OTA. It is much better than cable if you don't need all the extra channels. We expected a better HD picture and got it. We didn't realize what a difference 5.1 surround sound would make. Some shows, such as American Idol, use it to a spectacular extent. We always play our TV through our sound system using either "straight" 5.1 or fabricated "5 Channel Stereo" if the broadcast 5.1 is not well done. Until Netflix et al start streaming 5.1 sound, we will keep using the mail for our movies.

on Aug 14, 2013

Not much different than the popularity of MP3 players, the emphasis on one's source of TV is on quantity, not quality, like so much else these days (bloatware and thousands of apps come to mind as well). The other thing that's common is the corporate sector figuring out ways to milk the lazy public for all it is worth.

For less than $50 for an 8 bay antenna, a $25 LNA, in addition to a bunch of coax and splitters that you would need for any TV system, we get over 30 channels with less than 5 that we ever watch. Why pay half a grand a year for an extra 200 channel to never watch? The payback for an antenna system is less than 3 months! I certainly have better things to do with my money and time for that matter. Think what you could do with well over $5K saved over ten years.

Not only that, with an antenna system, you actually see High Definition - BluRay quality. What I've seen of my friends' cable and satellite HD systems, I don't even recognize as HD. The picture quality due to compressing that many channels into that little bandwidth really sucks. Internet HD quality is an order worse with major picture and motion artifacts. Now I must admit, that I watch HDTV at about the same relative distance as my PC screen. That's how to really appreciate that HD is of theater quality. If you're a typical mile away, HD is a total waste to you.

The local cable companies here are now in the game of lowering Internet download limits per month with outrageous penalties for exceeding your plan limits. One of my friends got hit with a $600 bill in his first month of Internet TV! We are witnessing a supposed battle between cable and Internet with consumers the actual losers - ca-ching!

Have you noticed more and more houses sporting HD antennae as word spreads? Let's face it there's a lot more advertising for cable, satellite and Internet than for antennae. But it is a do-it-yourself project, as antenna installers became extinct decades ago. The UHF antennae are certainly much easier to instal that the giant VHFs of yore.

I've got my fingers crossed as to how long the free ride of OAT will last, threatened as it is by telecom corporate greed. Isn't it amazing how "free market" deregulation has translated into the gouging of monopoly - just another example of Reganomics at work.

on Aug 15, 2013

It's interesting to watch the trend change from OTA broadcast through cable/satellite and now to internet TV, especially in the U.S, Europe and parts of Asia. With the attendant advancement in the complimentary hardware, that's remarkable. But that cannot be said of most parts of Africa, where OTA broadcast is still very much in use and part of the lives of the average people. Save for a few countries like South Africa and Nigeria, most of Africa still 'enjoy' the traditional OTA broadcast.
I have been keen on watching (and participating in) the global communications trend especially in broadband wireless and software engineering, so I'll very much welcome a more dramatic change in TV broadcast, especially in Nigeria.
Most TV stations here still transmit in analog but have been given a deadline by the National Broadcasting Commission to switch to Digital broadcast by January 15, 2015. I feel some TV stations have the capacity to do so without much ado. Stations like AIT, ChannelsTV, and Silverbird ought not to be 'forced' to make the change, one expected them to take the lead.
I can't wait to see Nigeria, my dear country, pick pace with the rest of the developed world in terms of advances in communications. Having one of the fastest growing telecoms sector in the world, I can't wait to see that translate into 'fastest growing industrialized nation of the world'.

on Aug 15, 2013

Cable and satellite will fade away at some point b/c they've gotten greedy (so have the networks) and don't want to adapt the the changing markets. Probably management top heavy. TV over IP has proven itself to be viable today - right now, with current tech assuming a person has a basic DSL grade internet connection. It has the power to connect the entertainment production company directly to the customer and cut out all the middle men.

On the other hand cutting out all the middle men also do away with alot of work-a-day jobs - so there is a tradeoff that shouldn't be ignored. Still, maybe these networks and the distribution companies like cable and satellite companies will ONLY respond to their customers migrating away before they react. Just like Detroit ignoring the rise of the import car brands huh? Some American companies stubbornly hang on to old business models for far too long.

I live in a rural southern town of ~50K people and have a basic DSL subscription. We watch our TV via a combination of Roku 1, Mint Linux powered PC (free alternative to Windows), and DVDs. We have only one TV - on purpose. We're too far from a major TV market to use an antenna that isn't 50ft tall to get OTA reception. We'd like to have it but haven't made the effort.

We're a pair of parents just trying to get our kids raised to be be responsible, educated adults with realistic goals and the means to fullfil those dreams/goals. We don't want to let Hollywood into our house will-nilly b/c their judgement is suspect. We aren't an isolated family like our Mennonite neighbors - we let our kids watch many of the mainstream kids' shows like the Nickelodoen shows among others. We also encourage them to watch nature, science and history shows that make a person think a little. We don't want the trashy TV or gratuitously violent shows in our house while our kids are watching TV.

Our home is equipped with a good TV, we have several older Linux powered computers and an older Macbook. Everything stays in the front room of the house. My kids haven't realized that there is a reason for this arrangement. It's simply so as they get older - everyone is aware of what everyone is doing on the 'net. No reason for us to all go to our corners of the house after dinner.

We have a teen and while he isn't interested in the female half of our species much yet, why make it easier to find the trashy parts of the internet? Also our internet is locked down at certain times of the day when the kids are occasionally home alone. They can use the 'net but even the mild trashy parts are filtered including Facebook, Twitter and so forth. My kids don't use those services nor do they have their own email addresses.

While I can't catch every opportunity for the oldest to discover porn, I am probably catching 99.9% of it thanks to Open-DNS which is a free service. My concerns right now are the kids accidentially typing in an address for something legit and then landing on something really heinous. The very first time I ever visited the 'net back in the 90s as an adult I landed on a porn site which took advantage of typo addresses and it took over the computer more or less. Side benefit: our computers never get viruses from bad websites.

We're not an isolated family but we'd like our kids to enjoy being naive little kids a little longer. Our older child is up on current events now and realizes the world is not like Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. A family we know well has a child who is 10 yrs going on 19 because anything goes with their multiple family TVs and their web is wide open 24/7. The kids have their own 200+ channel TVs and their own internet capable gadgets. We expect to see teenage pregnancies in their family any day now. We know other folks whose families have gone down that path too b/c the kids weren't ever told "no". No matter how good or bad the economy is, being a 15 yr old mother is a tough way to go. The baby potentially misses being raised right b/c the mother and father aren't together and the "parents" haven't figured out how to be adults yet let alone raise a baby right. What a tough path... Somehow their church attendance hasn't innoculated them against bad family planning.

Years ago I abandoned cable TV after it kept going up in price faster than my income. What started out at $25 soon cost $45 per month and kept climbing. I switched to satellite after a few years and it was grand at $28 per month with better variety, digitial video/audio, and an on screen schedule. Fast forward a decade or so and we dumped it too. Why? b/c we were paying $50+ for the basic "family" package. We were paying for a dozen shopping (buy more stuff!) and religious channels (send us money or face Satan in the afterlife!) and a handful of news channels (which frequently couldn't pass fact checking, fear mongering) which we didn't want in our house.

Then there were dozens of channels of garbage that I didn't want our then very young children to even be aware of - see MTV for example. In the end my kids were watching two or three kids' channels, my wife was watching literally two shows and I was watching a science channel - sometimes - but that channel was going the way of the History and TLC channels - down the drain with "reality TV" type shows unrelated to the original intent of the channels. A book or DVD or project out in the shop was more satisfying than what I could watch on the TV.

Give me more "How It's Made" okay? More thought provoking detail, not less. Another problem was the level of sexuality and bad language in even the commericials on TV! We've heard the 'B' word and the 'A' word on commericials over the years. We've seen family shows we were watching segway into gruesome crime shows without a commercial break. Seems the networks are always pushing the limits.

Listen, I was in the Navy for years and I've heard it all, seen it all, and been everywhere. Nothing embarases me but an eight year old child does not need to believe that "reality TV" is anything like real life. There might a some people out there that behave like the people on TV but we don't behave like that at OUR HOUSE. It's all part of why we have chosen it live in a small town disconnected from the big city problems. Yes there are some yahoos here but there are smaller qualities of them here. If 1% of the population behaves badly then we're surrounded by 100 yahoos rather than 10,000 yahoos.

So gone was the satellite. And it got "messy" at the end b/c we had a DVR which I paid for at purchase time which the satellite company later said they owned. Huh? Not that I could do anything with it except strip it for parts or sell it but I was clearly told it was MINE when we got it but now it belonged to them. Hmmmm. I sent it back per their instructions to be rid of them.

That cable TV fantasy that satellite TV is constantly dropping out? It really wasn't a problem for us. All together in a year's time we might lose TV for 10 minutes. Just aim your dish the correctly. Guess what? The local cable tv went out just as frequently. I really hate the FUD commercials that certain political groups and companies like cable TV use...

So we went with the Roku and after two years we still love getting our TV this way. We choose what we watch when we want to watch it. No commercials except on Hulu which we honestly don't use much. ~$24/month for the three paid channels (Hulu, Amazon and Netflix) and I own the equipment outright. We also have another two dozen channels of live news and so forth that we watch for free on the Roku too. Mostly international. When we visit family have traditional subscription TV my kids comment during the ride home that they really dislike the constant interupption of the commercials and they don't feel like they have any more choice on what to watch b/c they can only choose from what is playing live where on the Roku they could choose an episode from a favorite series that might be four years old. My kids love reruns just like my wife and I. We can watch a good TV show or movie several times and we're just as happy with a 30 yr old show as something from last year. If it's entertaining, age doesn't matter. Sometimes the vintage wardrobe or street scenes or vintage places can be entertaining in their own right.

Ultimately I would like to see our kids get bored with TV and read a book or go outside instead. That's happening more and more. They are more complex than the TV shows.

IPTV isn't for everyone. Very little live sports without additional expensive annual subscriptions ($150 for MLB). Expensive to me but cheap to the guy that pays $50+ to attend each sporting event in person.

The TV studios often will not let the streaming video sides to carry successful movies but they will let them carry poorly preforming sequels. Howver that may be changing as we recently watched several older blockbuster movies via the Roku.

There are some excellent international movies to choose from - excellent depending on your taste in movies. Some are in English and some are with subtitles. I found a way for a while to watch the BBC iPlayer website via our Mint Linux powered computer. I've got to say - the BBC has some excellent programming and the iPlayer does not have commercials. CBC out of Canada is also very good. As is ABC out of Australia. It is clear to me that the world has some excellent TV and much of it does not originate in the USA. Like so many things here in the "land of the free" we aren't able to partake in it. I guess if we actually lived in a free country we'd be able to watch ALL international TV at a reasonable cost similar to Netflix/Hulu/Amazon per month and we'd be able to go buy a French or Italian people mover (vehicle) that gets 65+ mpg without the hybrid tech of the Prius. Instead we're isolated from the rest of the world in the name of consumer protections which seem alot like isolating the American markets from the international markets in favor of American distributors. That's all fine and dandy except what they are selling is made somewhere else in the first place. It's all so complicated... ;)

Well, that's it. Thanks for the ramble.

on Aug 18, 2013

1.) Where do you get your numbers? Cable Industry Association? Cable is currently losing existing customers.
2.) So you assume that the 50% of Americans without high speed Internet access are going to IPTV, are you thick? 3.Overheard a lot of Best Buy customers say "if there is no OTA TV then our family won't watch TV". NTSC signals were good for (FCC) 60 miles; ATSC signals (per FCC) only 15 mile radius. Seattle itself is 20 mi North-South, metro area beyond ATSC range; Los Angeles much larger. What do you do outside major metropolitan areas (like midwest?)? Maybe Satellite TV with dialup uplink.

on Aug 18, 2013

2) Yes, IPTV, not least thanks to adequate cellular data plans and of course edge buildout. That said, the ATSC antenna market (which can definitely get more than 15 miles out of a broadcast, mountains permitting) is interestingly naive. I keep pushing, pulling and twisting the HDTV and it remains mum about BER and image fidelity until it blacks out, as I wonder what the bitbucket for all the data sidebands has held and how the backchannel was implemented.

1) If human cycle times are getting shorter too (protip: plan those 4-5 extra years of college and specialty in time allocated for getting them on transport) 6th grade stuff should be pretty wizened and cosmopolitan by 2053. Ad hoc planning (whee, Action Compliance Newsreaders) was supposed to be news, not the street vigil!

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Transition from the Academe to the Industry Unraveled 1

There have been many arguments here and there about how short-comings of universities and colleges yield engineers with skill sets that do not cater to the demands of the industry. There have been many arguments here and there about an imminent shortage of engineers lacking knowledge in the sciences. There have been many arguments here and there about how the experience and know-how of engineers in the industry may vanish due to the fact that they can’t be passed on because the academic curriculum deviates from it....More
Nov 11, 2014
blog

Small Beginnings 5

About 10 years ago I received a phone call from an acquaintance. He had found a new opportunity selling some sort of investments and he wanted to share it with me in case I was interested. Ken had done fairly well for many years as a contract software developer primarily in the financial services sector. His specialty was writing RPG code. (RPG is often referred to as a write only language.) But he was seeing the handwriting on the wall as the industry moved on to other methods, and saw himself becoming a fossil....More

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