These features of digital television inevitably lead to another important development in the world of available and on demand television, the online media player. Televisions and computers are beginning to merge into an indistinguishable medium where by either one is interchangeable for the other. All the major UK terrestrial TV channels now have an online player of sorts which allows you to watch just about any of the shows you may have missed on you computer at your own convenience. The BBC iPlayer’s slogan of ‘Making the unmissable missable’ really does sum up the whole principle of online players.
Channel 4 have 4OD, ITV have Catch Up and Five have Five Demand. The following are the stated facilities available on the BBC iPlayer.About BBC iPlayer With BBC iPlayer you can catch up with the programmes from the past week. If you are in the UK and connected to the internet you can: Play programmes from the past seven days and watch them on the website through Click to Play (streaming). This works on Windows, Macs, Linux, Nintendo Wii and iPhones – and we’re working on more ways. Download TV programmes and store them on your computer for up to 30 days if your computer supports the BBC iPlayer Download Manager. If you are outside the UK and connected to the internet you can: Listen live and listen again to most of our radio programmes (BBC, 2008).BBC iPlayer is by far the most successful example of online media players at the moment; however the other channels are not far behind.
Due to the increased time the population spends on computers and the internet, online media players are becoming ever more the chosen form in which to watch television programmes. In the UK, for example, the success of the BBC’s iPlayer has created surges in traffic that will require ISPs to add capacity to their networks. Even before the advent of the iPlayer, Ofcom in 2006 said they will need to spend (euro) 830 million over five years. Ofcom says 42 million programmes were accessed via the iPlayer in the first three months after launch in July 2007, and ISPs have called for the BBC to help shoulder the cost of local access infrastructure upgrade.
(Taaffe, 2008.)It is also becoming more and more vital for broadcasters to provide these services for viewers else it is inevitable that they shall end up resorting to free file sharing sites in order to watch the programmes. Broadcasters realise that if they do not make popular programming available for download it is likely to end up being accessed for free on peer-to-peer sites beyond their control.
(Taaffe, 2008.) The use of online viewing and video sharing sites is reaching astronomical figures with statistics such as 48% of internet users using sites such as You Tube in December 2007. In the past year those figures have undoubtedly grown and prove how important it is for broadcasters to keep up with the internet.Another interesting feature of television which has come about in the past decade is the idea of interactivity. The broadcasting industry in the UK is moving into a world of digital plenty leaving behind a far more comfortable and predictable world of analogue scarcity.
Simultaneously it is attempting to reshape its relationship with audiences with integrated interactive content. As the computer and television consoles in our homes merge and become exponentially more powerful, television executives are increasingly looking to interactivity to woo promiscuous audiences. (Jones in Mathijs ; Jones, 2004.
)Many programmes have their own websites and a variety of different ways in which the viewer can interact with the programmes. Big Brother is a prime example of an interactive multi-platform television programme. The show allows for viewers to access information and participate in voting and opinion based sessions in a number of different ways such as broadcast, internet, interactive TV, mobile SMS and MMS, tabloid narratives, landline phone and so on.Overall it is true to say that television is still very much in existence however the form in which it is broadcast to the nation has changed and is continuing to change dramatically as time goes on. Television is no longer ruled by schedules and terrestrial channels. Instead it is controlled by viewers who are subsequently changing the way television is produced, its content, form and mode of broadcast.Gone are the days where people set their alarms in order to watch the latest episode of their favourite programme, instead, television is made readily available for those who wish to see it whenever and ever more importantly, wherever they want.
It is not uncommon to see people watching TV on their laptops or phones on trains and in other public places. Viewers are demanding what they want to watch therefore broadcasters are having to make their programmes on demand in order to prevent the use of file sharing and peer to peer sites. Television does still exist, however its fundamental definition is most definitely changing.BibliographyArmstrong, S.
(2008) Television Guides Go On Demand. Media Week. [Online] 19th August. Vol. 18 Issue 29, p22-23.
Available From: http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/features/840112/ [Accessed: 24th November 2008]BBC. (2008) About BBC iPlayer.
[Online] Available From: http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/about_iplayer [Accessed: 22nd November 2008]