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March 23, 2020

Alex Nieora on How Technology has Changed How We Watch TV



There’s no denying the transformative impact technology has had on television. It has reshaped the televisual landscape to the point that people from just 10 years ago wouldn’t even recognize it today. Smart TVs, streaming platforms, and internet TV boxes have become the norm, and cable and satellite networks the exception. Advertisements have been reduced or altogether eliminated, TV series are being watched on smartphones and laptops rather than on traditional televisions, and people are now habituated to watching what they want when they want.



Alex Nieora is a writer from Santa Clarita, California who has travelled extensively and resided temporarily in London, UK. She graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and is a huge television fan. Alex Nieora particularly loves cop dramas. In fact, watching cop dramas with her family inspired her to start writing a cop drama script of her own. She provides her insights into the ways in which television has evolved spurred by advances in technology.

Eliminating the Middleman

One huge way technology has changed how we watch television is through its elimination of the middleman. Historically, television has been watched through a cable network. In order to access the cable network, viewers needed to subscribe to a service from a telecoms company which then provided them with access to programs from different networks. But, says Alex Nieora, with the invention of new kinds of technology, satellite, and cable network subscriptions are on their way out.

This is due to something known as ‘over the top’ (OTT) technology. OTT technology refers to video content and other forms of media delivered via the internet, bypassing cable. The most prevalent examples of OTT technology are streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Apple (News - Alert)+, and Disney+. These new types of technology have made television more accessible than ever before. Not only is it less expensive, but it can be viewed on a variety of platforms, from televisions and laptops to tablets and even smartphones.

Internet TV

Some of the biggest tech companies in the world, including both Google (News - Alert) and Apple, have made their mark outside of the TV world. According to Alex Nieora, a desire to diversify their service and expand their ITC market dominance is what prompted these leading tech companies to create products that combine the internet and television. In the case of Google, this was Chromecast and with Apple, Apple TV. Other similar products include Roku, Kodi, Boxee (News - Alert), and the Western Digital Media Center. What exactly do these do? In essence, they provide televisions with internet connectivity, effectively allowing consumers to stream TV shows through the internet directly onto their TVs. This used to be achieved by means of box devices Nowadays, most of these streaming devices are preloaded with the Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video apps. Overall, Internet TV has been yet another phenomenon that cuts out the middleman.

Competition

There’s no question that in the world of television, competition breeds higher quality content, shares Alex Nieora. She notes that while she was living in London, in the UK she was shocked to discover that the British government forces anyone who watches TV or who uses TV services provided by the national broadcaster, the BBC, to purchase an annual TV license. Fines and even jail time are imposed on people who refuse to pay. She felt this was very antediluvian.

The way forward, Alex Nieora opines is not state sanctioned licensing but market competition. With the establishment of new streaming platforms, we’ve borne witness to some of the best television shows in history. For decades, network programming has ruled the airwaves. But by 2020, this has completely shifted to the point where the shows produced by streaming giants like Netflix are attracting more viewers, critical acclaim, and awards than any show currently on network television.

Although many services like Netflix started out as a platform where people could view their favorite network TV shows online, they have quickly grown to the point where they are regularly producing their own original television shows. And due to the success of the platforms, they have the budget to create some of the best television in years. Case in point: House of Cards, The Crown, Orange (News - Alert) is the New Black, Stranger Things, Narcos… the list goes on.

At this point, competition has evolved to the extent that not only are streaming platforms competing with cable television, they are also competing with each other. Consumers have come to expect that any platform they sign up for will be offering their own original content, in addition to whatever other series or movies they earned the rights to. Netflix, Hulu (News - Alert), Prime Video, Disney+, and Apple+ all produce their own content and, says Alex Nieora, it is now these shows and movies that draw people in.



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