Is the Web the Future of TV?

Um, in a word, yeah. We think so. And the geniuses at ArsTechnica.Com seem to agree:


The Trajectory of Television—How the Internet dust-up will settle
by Casey Johnston

Right now, traditional TV and media and the Internet exist in uneasy tension. It’s far from an all-out war, but by no means have the two come to an agreement. The Internet is affecting everything from the services we use to watch conventional TV shows to the new hardware we do it on: laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Both parties in the fight have plenty of money, but one is losing cultural clout while the other only gains. Five to 10 years down the road, how will this juxtaposition of old and new shake out? Can the Internet liberate content to a free-for-all, endless catalog of all the best TV shows, movies, and Web series? Or will the content creators, rightsholders, and providers decide they’ve waited long enough for not enough kickbacks from the supposed digital revolution before they pull back into their proprietary caves and resign customers to a line of channels, preprogramming, and pokey set-top boxes?

In this final installment of our series looking at the history of TV, we examine where all aspects of the video entertainment business may head, where we’d like to see them go, and where we hope they never dare step foot.

Hardware on rails

Televisions are on a path right now that we don’t see diverging any time soon. In the next several years, they’ll get thinner, the resolutions will get higher, and their lighting technologies will become both higher-quality and more energy-efficient. OLED will lead the charge. While these TVs are about the price of a luxury vehicle now, they will take the same price dive that plasma HDTVs did back in the early- to mid-2000s.

The jump to a 4K/8K, or “Ultra HD,” standard is an inevitability, but it will be harder for consumers this time around to justify the purchase compared to the SD-to-HD transition. The introduction of HD marked the first time that TV resolution had changed in half a century. But by the time 4K TVs enter the market en masse, even relatively early HD adopters will have purchased their screens only 15 or so years ago.

Along with 4K and 8K resolution displays, content suited to the display will start to come. The first examples will be from sources that focus heavily on picture quality, like Discovery, documentaries, premium channels (witness Discovery’s Planet Earth Blu-ray set, the typical first and sometimes only Blu-ray purchase of a Blu-ray player owner). A few years elapsed between the appearance of HDTVs and a large-scale change over to HD content; we expect for 4K and up, this change will take less time.

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