Over the last five years, TV in Australia has taken on a different social and entertainment meaning with TV networks such as 9 and 7 commencing additional services such as Stan and 7Two to provide more comprehensive TV coverage and to win weekly ratings with a greater market share. In the last year, such TV networks have followed American trends in live streaming and have endeavoured to provide viewers with Internet streaming and the ability of Australians to watch their favourite shows and movies on the internet through particular networks. This paper will accordingly review and evaluate the effectiveness of TV streaming in Australia and how it has revolutionised home entertainment (Healey, 2015).
In explaining the concept, TV streaming is the process in which shows and networks are broadcasted online or through particular mediums that receive radio signals and provide a WIFI connection. People can effectively watch shows, live events and movies in real time on different medias rather than downloading files (Diallo, 2013). They also have the option of watching episodes of particular shows online or through such mediums as Apple TV or Netflix. The viewer can also choose what shows or movies they would like to watch rather than being subjected to scheduled shows when watching normal TV (Seabrook, 2012). It ultimately provides the viewer with the autonomy to decide what they want to watch and when. It also provides opportunities to expand their TV or movie repertoire by saving, recording and storing live events or episodes for future reference. It is highly innovative and a new way of satisfying the entertainment needs of Australian residents (Diallo, 2013).
To access a streaming device, the individual requires a medium through which to stream TV such as a laptop, television, standard computer, playstation or unique media player. The individual will also require a constant WIFI connection and in some cases, an additional server provided by the specific company that feeds off the household’s WIFI connection (Healey, 2015).
Currently in the Australian television market, the major players of TV streaming include firstly, Stan, which was launched by Fairfax limited and is a conglomerate of the Channel 9 network. It provides shows and movies from the 9 network and also provides the viewer with live events that wouldn’t otherwise be broadcasted on the main 9 network. Other major players include the long lasting Foxtel Network, which provides viewers with a pre-determined selection of channels either via Foxtel Play on the internet or through a server box in households (known as cable TV). Other major players include the newly introduced Australian version of Netflix which is streamed either through a server box or online (Healey, 2015).
Alternatively TV streaming also includes a number of smaller players including secondary companies and services such as Presto, which is a sub division of Foxtel and the new and upcoming Apple TV, which like Foxtel, has only just been introduced into the Australian TV market. There are many other smaller players that can be sourced online and provide a multitude of different tastes in movies, television shows and music (Healey, 2015).
The price of TV streaming is variable and depends on the level of service that the viewer desires. For smaller services such as those provided by Stan, the price ranges from $9.99 for the basic service to up to $30 for a more comprehensive package. In the instance, Foxtel, the price can vary further from $25 to $90 which includes the provision of Foxtel’s premium service and hundreds of channels and movies. Netflix provides one of the most affordable services at just $9.99 (Healey, 2015).
The competitors of TV streaming including free to air TV networks as well as companies that provide only cable TV. Cable TV without live TV streaming (which Foxtel provides) is more expensive and can cost up to $90, equivalent to its premium TV streaming package. Free to air TV is free and provides the viewer with a basic package of channels, which the viewer can not influence or have any autonomy over.
Like many entertainment systems and services, there are also a number of associated disadvantages to TV streaming. The main disadvantage is its reliance on a WIFI connection, which not all households may be able to provide (Seabrook, 2012). Despite the efficiency of WIFI connections, they are not always reliable and have a tendency of dropping out. Furthermore, TV streaming may require significant data that can not be provided by a particular internet plan or WIFI service. In many cases, WIFI connections provide a service to a number of devices which may restrict the usability and efficiency of TV streaming. It also comes at a significant cost and is based on the money principle of the more you provide, the better the coverage and services offered by the particular company. For many people, dependent on socio-economic classes, TV streaming may not be economically viable based on its month to month cost and service requirements (Diallo, 2013).
In personally reflecting on the significance of TV streaming, I believe it is highly innovative and provides Australians with a unique and very liberal means of accessing information and being entertained. It is provided at the will of the viewer and can be very affordable and a great way for Australians to remain connected with the rest of the world. It can be used on a number of devices which provides a number of ways of accessing information or entertainment. It also provides me with a way of accessing what I want in my own time and at my own discretion. My only concern about TV streaming is its next move and whether there are too many stations or companies trying to provide too many options. It may result in data overload and confusion amongst viewers particular if companies such as Foxtel provide an even greater variety of television shows and opportunities to view favourite movies and episodes. I also think that it may have the effect of restricting the ability of young Australians to effectively socialise with others. It promotes internal activites and viewing rather than physical and social activity in the outside world.
In conclusion, it is a highly innovative and effective service, which will continue to expand and provide unique ways of accessing critical data at anytime of the day and in any location worldwide. It certainly raises the question of what the next level of entertainment will be.