Streaming video over the Internet has become a sensation. According to the New York Times, Netflix video watchers account for 25 percent of all Internet data transmitted in North America, which is an impressive statistic that underscores how popular the activity is becoming.
Video streaming has also become an issue that television companies and satellite providers have to do battle with. In the second quarter of 2012 Time Warner Cable lost nearly 170,000 subscribers, according to Engadget, and the major subscription based TV providers lost a record 195,700 subscribers from April to June, according to the Associated Press. However, as any streaming fan can attest finding the best streaming option is not exactly a simple process.
While an old school television antenna can help relieve some of the pressure for viewers, and AntennaWeb has a wonderful utility for determining which antenna is right for a specific area, Internet based viewing complements and enhances the television experience. The problem is that no single device seamlessly binds all the major video streaming applications into one simple interface, with the exception of the home computer.
Basically, anyone purchasing a Roku, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or even a tablet computer has to evaluate streaming needs carefully or end up paying more in monthly fees than the cable bill charged in the first place. Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu Plus all have different catalogs, and figuring out which one is a better fit for a given household can be a little tricky. However, if the streaming is only taking place on the family television, an antenna and a Netflix subscription can probably fill any void.
However, folks want their video on whatever device they have available. That means streaming video to tablet computers, which presents another challenge altogether. According to the Associated Press, Apple has sold 84 million iPads since 2010, which means those users have access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and iTunes, but not Amazon Prime or Amazon Video on Demand. Kindle Fire and other Android based tablets provide access to the big boys, but any content purchased on iTunes remains viewable only on the Apple machines.
So basically, users who pony up a monthly subscription for Netflix or Hulu Plus can watch those streams on just about any device, but users who purchase episodes for $1.99 or more have to be a bit more selective on what devices are present in a home. If not, television fanatics can end up having to pay for the same show twice.
Streaming video is a great convenience that offers a ton of flexibility in viewing options, but there is still room for improvement. Yes, users can reap many benefits and even successfully discontinue paying $80 or more a month for cable, but the available options need to be carefully considered first.