Online video content frequently gets lumped together as one big on-demand offering. After all, that is the value the Web brings. You go out and search for the content you want, and the Internet serves it up. However, there’s an interesting increase in “appointment TV” on the Web as well. For most big, live events, I can now be reasonably assured that someone will be streaming the action on the Internet and providing extras – stats, alternate camera views, social media features, etc. The trend really became apparent with last year’s Olympics and this year’s presidential inauguration, but it continues on as events like the US Open and Wimbledon hit the Web.
The new reality of having live events streamed online is interesting from multiple angles. It signals that appointment TV is far from dead (at least where sports and news are concerned), it shows how significantly broadband service has improved in a few short years, and it demonstrates the growth of an online audience that barely existed before YouTube’s launch in 2005. Perhaps most importantly, however, the new trend shows what functionality pay-TV operators must build into their services to meet the new expectations of consumers – namely access to content anywhere. And while you can’t access a cable TV signal on your PC or mobile phone, cable operators can bridge into the IP world (and are doing so today) to make sure their content is accessible beyond the TV. It’s one small part of how pay TV operators are approaching IP TV, even as QAM continues to rule the cable world.