Is on-demand slowly killing traditional broadcasting?

Summary:I'm not a big TV watcher to be honest. In the UK, we have the "licence fee" which you need to pay the government before you even connect the telly to the wall.

Is the traditional TV going to pot?
I'm not a big TV watcher to be honest. In the UK, we have the "licence fee" which you need to pay the government before you even connect the telly to the wall. If you don't, you can bet your arse you'll have armed police storming the windows to your fourth-floor apartment, throwing in the tear gas and dragging you out by your feet, never to be seen again.

But with the rise of "next generation" television; on-demand and downloadable broadcasts, the future for the television is looking questionable, in whether this 80 year old invention can sustain the lead over it's 30 year old little sister, the Internet.

With the rise of YouTube and streaming media, it's been far easier to type in a few keywords and gets the content you're looking for. Before the great wave of DMCA notices last year, you could watch most television broadcasts online, albeit illegally. Whether the broadcast giants saw this threat as a potential solution or not, soon after on-demand television really took off.

The numbers are growing larger and larger, and not only in the US. Over the course of the last 3 years, Kontiki, a company which specialises in peer-assisting on-demand content, has rolled out its platform to Channel 4 and the BBC, making previously broadcast programmes available to anyone with a British IP address whenever they want it.

In the US, the top three television networks have launched on-demand services, ABC, NBC and our very own parent corporation CBS. These have revolutionised the way we watch broadcasts, enabling us to bypass the standard schedules and watch programmes when we wish to. Many see this as a great thing, but ISP's of course are worried about the toll it's having.

The toll that on-demand media is having on ISP's is a great one. I honestly don't completely understand how the US Internet network works; I know that in the UK, the bandwidth is very much shared amongst local geographic locations. This is slowing down the entire network with the amount of bandwidth being used, and ISP's are worried.

I, as many, get home after a difficult and tiring day and slump in front of the box for an hour or so, with a nice cup of tea. This most likely won't change, and seems to be the one thing that keeps the traditional television alive. But considering UK citizens can't avoid watching live broadcasts without a television licence, non-licence fee payers can still watch on-demand broadcasts for absolutely free. Where does this leave the broadcasters? Evidentially out of pocket, and with the current credit crisis, this is something that they will most likely try and avoid.

What do you think? Is this something you're aware of, or affected by it? Thoughts, theories and general rants are welcome.

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Topics: Mobility, Cloud, Hardware

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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