It’s taken decades to get here, but streaming and other on-demand media consumption technologies have become the future of entertainment.
During elementary school in the mid-1980s, I learned basic computer programming, like Logo and Basic. We were fortunate to have a shiny new computer lab filled with Apple II computers. We were told this was a tremendous honor -- and to keep our hands clean to ensure a long life for the machines.
Those years were filled with touch-typing drills and the occasional educational game of Gertrude's Secrets. Microsoft inked a sweet deal with IBM. TCP, Nameservers, and DNS were new technologies. The first domain name was registered, and the first Internet backbone created. Cable TV offered a host of content not available anywhere else. Video was played via VHS or Betamax, until the smackdown ended with a VHS victory.
Moving ahead about 25 years into the Information Age, the technology landscape (or “Webscape,” perhaps) has changed drastically. We are no longer relegated to a network programming schedule. Thanks to evolving technology and customer demand, we’re seeing more networks get involved in online entertainment. All major over-the-air networks offer recently-aired programs for online viewing at their respective Websites.
These offerings are available on demand, outside of regularly scheduled programming blocks. NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and even PBS offer streaming video content with NBC dabbling in limited-use downloads. Select cable channels offer a streaming version of recent shows, like AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and USA Network’s “Psych.”
A sampling of my workday entertainment is centered upon on-demand netcasts (formerly known as “podcasts”). I choose the content provider, genre, delivery method, and time of day to tune in. When I’m not listening to my highly personalized blend of technology and comedy radio shows, I listen to one of many Internet Radio stations. Some are primarily online-only services, while others are available on my Android device. I enjoy being the program director.
With so much available online, can consumers save financially by tuning in to what’s available online in lieu of paying for pricey satellite TV and radio services? I thought it would be fun to compare pricing for cable radio and television with that of my Internet content providers. I was surprised by what I found.
If I were to subscribe to both XM Radio and Dish Network, I could pay nearly two hundred dollars more for each year of service than with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora One, Roku box, and Amazon Prime combined.
What does it all mean? The future is streaming, and we are watching it come to fruition.
— Michelle Greenlee is a Web developer and front-end designer, a general-purpose Web geek, and an occasional freelance writer.