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TV catch-up services not the death of linear TV.
Tuesday 12 August 2008 10:57:59 by Andrew Ferguson

The various TV over broadband services in the form of streaming and downloads offered by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five and Sky have gained a lot of headlines showing large take-up, however this appears to be incremental to the traditional broadcast services according to a report in The Guardian.

The TV marketing body Thinkbox (not affiliated with thinkbroadband) reports that UK viewers are watching 3.77 hours of broadcast TV a day so far this year, a 2% increase on the five year average. The amount of content watched online is in addition to this and is also growing. The fact that traditional broadcast viewing is not decreasing may reflect people trying to save money by simply staying at home, rather than going out.

The impact of the online offerings is important to broadcasters as many will hope to reclaim the costs of developing and running their online operation from advertising revenues. Given the recent prediction of a dip in advertising revenue by ITV, we may see some online operations scaling back.

The commercial joint venture named Project Kangaroo between BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm of the BBC), Channel 4 and ITV looks set to be delayed until 2009 due to the ongoing investigation by the Competition Commission into whether this venture represents a merger situation, and what the impact will be on other commercial ventures.

One reason many people may have taken a look at the current on-demand services and returned to their normal viewing habits is that many services provide poor quality pictures, particularly if viewed from a closer distance as would be typical on a computer monitor. Compared to Freeview some services provide a comparable picture, but this is not saying much as Freeview generally contains compression artefacts. Even digital satellite TV can fail to meet the picture quality of analogue TV at times. People are spending hundreds of pounds upgrading to HD televisions looking for the ultimate in quality, but the images currently being pumped into our homes, be it over broadband or digital broadcast, often fail to impress. Even HD streams are not immune to the 'blocky' nature of compression during fast action scenes.

For those buying movies online, a common trap is to label a 1.5GB movie as High Definition because of the resolution of the image. Even with modern encoding/decoding it will not match the quality of a DVD or Blu-ray film. Good HD content generally runs at 200MB for just 2 minutes of content, making a film download around 9GB. Downloading a single 9GB film would more than double the average monthly usage figure, so it shows the extent to which the complete UK broadband infrastructure from mobile broadband, through the various DSL variants to cable broadband, have some way to go to meet the hype of a all encompassing broadband media experience.


Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
yes, read it and weep, guys.... If you choose to get your films/series by dubious means, then you will not get 'quality' ... I have even seen a download claiming 'HD wide screen' where they have actually 'chopped off' the top and bottom of the screen, to save space!! - only watchable if you are desparate enough to not afford the DVD!!
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
'Broadcast' TV is still better... but only on live feeds like sports and news... (and analogue!!)
The other programs... well, sky are definately 'stealing bandwidth' for HD content - on some old repeat series, you cannot make out a persons face in the near distance, it has been 'smoothed' too much!!(no 'fine details' remaining, it uses up bandwidth!)

Even a year ago, it was much clearer!!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
The article was referring to quality of fully legal downloads, rather than a back handed dig at those obtaining their material via less official routes.
Posted by Going_Digital over 9 years ago
We don't bother with broadcast TV any more, just watch the occasional thing on the BBC iPlayer.
Posted by _TRIaXOR_ over 9 years ago
lol, comnut just got pwned XD
Posted by danman7_200 over 9 years ago
I can download high definition films (4.4GB) encoded using h264 quite freely from the internet with superb picture quality. Sometimes a legal alternative needs to exist to encourage people from copyrighting.

I hardly ever use TV now. BBCI player and 40d have been a god send to myself and student friends of mine as it saves dollar from not paying tv license. As most have bigger monitors than there crappy tv's, its win win.

The only reason I'm still begrudgingly paying for sky is for Sky Internet.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
comnut, legal iptv services are often lower quality, but illegal stuff I disagree, a downloaded hdtv show from the .us will be better quality than watching it on sdtv here. Pirated dvd and x264 encoded movies are very watchable from what I have seen. I generally only use tv for live sports now.
Posted by timmay over 9 years ago
I Don't have Sky+ any more and find myself watching iPlayer and 4oD more for one simple reason; I can watch what I want when I want (within reason). Ok so the quality isn't up-to TV standard (which is poor anyway) but that isn't too much of a problem. I bought a freesat box and I'm still waiting for freesat/bbc/4oD to offer a IPTV service then I'll be watching broadcast TV a lot less.
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
nah, its my internutter mates that got pwned... :)

As I said, 'normal' tv is much better!! :):)
- and may I ask HOW LONG did it take to download 4.4G??? - I bet your student mates were moaning that they could not use the PC for that long!!!
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago

you do know a colour licence is only £11 a month???
- Freeview and Freesat IS 'broadcast TV' - and no caps, no extra charges, no picture breakup when some nutter is downloading the latest HD film!! :D :D

IPTV of course depends on your ISP, unlike Freeview, that is almost everywhere.. Freesat is *the same content* as freeview, but it cuts out when it rains or snows heavily, just like SKY does!!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
Just because your view of internet usage does not match others, there is no need to go around calling people nutters.
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
It is an 'affectionate' term.. :) Myself, I am a 'nutter' about gadgets, and good quality sound and video.. I would have used the name comnutter, but it is both longer, and already in use!!! :) :)
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
- and I am sure most irritated students would us a much worse name, when the above bad things happen... :)

Posted by _sjr_ over 9 years ago
@comnut - how long to download 4.4GB?
Using a Sky Max connection could take an hour or perhaps even less given a reasonably short line
Posted by NetGuy over 9 years ago
@comnut - please don't try to compare Freeview with Freesat as they do not have 'the same content'. HDTV will be a while before it hits Freeview, for one thing, and no doubt the choice of regional TV will never come to Freeview.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
^^^ Indeed Freeview IMO isnt that great, where my sister lives which is a strong freeview area, a couple of her old analogue channels are actually better....... Watch anything on freeview that has lots of detail and fast movement (The Recent Olympic opening ceremony is a good example) and its just as blocky as hell as any average 700Mb - 2Gig download... SOmething which on my connection takes minutes, not hours.
Posted by mishminx over 9 years ago
I can't remember the last time I used iplayer or any of the others. I find the picture quality so poor that the content is largely unwatchable. Not to mention the restrictions attached to such content. Its just not worth the effort.
Posted by Kempy over 9 years ago
The cost per gigabyte to the ISP is around £1 per gig so if you download 10 9Gig films per month it will have cost the ISP ... £90 and the average subscription recoups about £40 according to an article on this site - looks bad for the ISP looking to make a profit don't you think?
Posted by _TRIaXOR_ over 9 years ago
Depends who the ISP has to pay, Sky own thier own LLU kit (Easynet)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Who cares about the cost to an ISP anyway?? May sound ignorant but its up to the ISPs and regulators to decide how much they pay whoever it concerns (BT on most occasions i suspect) per gig.
Getting sixk of saying it but no matter how much some of these ISPs want to cap and throttle and no matter how much BT live with their head in the clouds... Larger more bandwidth intensive internet uses keep appearing and are not going to stop, just for british ISPs and BT.
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
NetGuy: you need to validate that statement... what 'extra content' do you mean?? only real diff. is 'localisation' due to bandwidth limitation 'cos of the cost of it!

The freesat website on regional TV: **We’ve got a range of different channels available, depending on where you are in the UK.**
- I dont think this means they are all available, as they are on SKY...

The freeview website says regional TV is available, tailored to the location...

or you just want to watch regional TV when you are NOT in that region??
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago

hey choose what you want - but do note that when freeview gets to 'full power' around 2012, it will most likely have the same content, and WON'T disappear when there is heavy weather!! (just like it does on sky...
Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
comnut - all BBC regional stations are on freesat, the ITV ones are in the non-freesat section.
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
I think you will find ITV , 4 & 5 are just waiting for their SKY contract to expire, then they will be on the free platform... IIRC, the same happened with freeview ages ago...

GOOD NEWS! you may be getting 40 HD channels on freeview!!
- just got my wotsat mag - Nice girl from Heroes on cover.. A large article on the whole digital switchover subject, heavy reading, but good stuff!! :)
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago

much more on

Posted by Kempy over 9 years ago
Typical Carpetburn - who gives a **** about the price just give us the service :o)

TV over Internet being poor quality was the issue in the discussion - the point I wanted to make is if ISP's can't afford to buy the backhaul necessary to provide sufficcient bandwidth they have to traffic shape and adding services like TV is not going to help. ergo TV over Internet is a stupid idea unless we are prepared to pay enough to allow service providers to buy sufficient backhaul.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
^^^ Rubbish as i stated...'its up to the ISPs and regulators to decide how much they pay whoever it concerns (BT on most occasions i suspect) per gig.'

There is no reason an ISP couldnt give us all services which atleast match freeview in quality terms. I couldnt care less if my connection price doubled overnight, as long as speed and quality of content doubled also... If you dont care about speed or quality or content, maybe you should go back to dialup.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Worried about poor ISPs and the ransom they are help to?? Again go back to dialup and reduce the problem if you are that concerned.
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