Last year, and earlier this year, I posted up a series of essays on television’s increase in quality, as well as the changing role of television programmes and the internet. iTunes has increased it’s number of television shows from just a couple of ABC shows to two-hundred twenty. They’ve also picked up shows such as Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Prison Break, Law and Order, CSI, The Office, and have added a feature called a Season Pass, which will allow you to purchase the entire season ahead of time, all that you have to do is download the episode when it’s put online. In addition to the huge number of shows that have been added online, Apple Corp. has just revamped the iPod and iTunes. The new iPods have a better screen and longer battery life, aimed specifically at being able to watch videos on the devices. They’re not the full screen iPods as had been rumoured, but iTunes has become more visual. CD Cover art is more prominant, and the video quality has gone up. Towards the end of the typical TV seasons earlier this spring, where ABC put several of their shows online free, streaming, with limited ads. FOX and CBS have followed suit with some of their shows thus far. Fox put up four of the first episodes of Prison Break, Vanished, and has followed with a couple of other shows. CBS has placed their new show Smith, CSI: Miami, and the Unit online. I’m sure that several other networks (Please, please, please, CW, put up Supernatural and Veronica Mars online).
So what does this mean? Television is breaking further into the internet. NBC, SciFi, ABC, CW, and CBS have all added online video hubs. These hubs offer a number of different options, ranging from the full episodes of television episodes to behind the scenes and promos for upcoming episodes. I don’t think that it needs to be said, but TV is here on the internet to stay.
There’s a couple of reasons for content being provided online. The technology is here, with broadband connections becoming ever more powerful. I, for the first time, have Cable internet, and as a result, I’ve been watching Prison Break, Battlestar Galactica, and currently, Smith, streaming. It’s a cool thing.
I’m also extremely pleased with it because I can now watch the episode a day or so after it airs, which is very nice because my job will be taking me away from the tube, and for shows with content that relied heavily on the story aspect, it’s nice to have the option to be able to catch up without waiting half the year for a re-run.
There are, with all good thing, some drawbacks. iTunes music files are fairly large, ranging from 396 megabytes to 912 megabytes. These are huge files, and they have the potential to really eat up your hard drive in huge bites. No pun intended. But currently, I’m down to about 7 free gigabytes on my own hard drive. In addition, the streaming shows are just that, streaming. The quality level on the full screen settings are pretty weak, and if your connection is spotty, you’re likely to have trouble.
Security is another drawback. with sites like Youtube, Google Video and Myspace videos gaining in popularity, it’ll be a matter of time before there will be some news about television networks and their programs ending up on these sites. I know that House has made an appearance as a six part upload, as I’m sure that several other shows have done. Warner Brothers has signed a deal with Youtube for their content, while another has condemned the site.
Finally, not all shows are online. Fox, much to my annoyance, hasn’t put up House for download on iTunes, nor streaming. So, if there’s really one show that you have your heart set on, it might be hit or miss whether it’ll be online for viewing or not. Well, there’s always the DVDs, or you know, making sure that you’ll be able to make the TV date.
I generally get around that little problem by watching the episodes while I’m doing other things, like writing, talking with other people, and with it in a small corner of my screen.
Things are likely to improve. Image quality has a little ways to go, but I’m betting that we’ll see some slower progress, as with higher quality episodes, we’ll have bigger megabyte sizes. Bigger sizes mean longer download times and more space taken up on your computer.
Next up: Lost Clones, the TV/Movie Barrier and high quality storylines.