Satellite Broadcasting and Broadband

By richard | 07/08/2007

Satellite broadcasting has been part of daily life for me for over a decade and a half by now. As a result of this, I have watched a vast amount of programs before they were released in the country where I was living. One effect of this has been that rather than watching American and English series on swiss tv months after they were produced I would catch them on satellite. The appeal of watching an American series dubbed in French is low.

Broadband is another tool that is changing the media landscape. Most of the content I consume on television comes from America therefore there is a lag between when the Americans view the television programs and when the English view that content. There is an even bigger lag between England and Central Europe. As a result, this is a perfect reason for people to test bit torrent like technologies. Rather than wait for months to watch a program they can watch it within a very short period of time.

When I was in the US for example I saw adverts for Dexter and this piqued my curiosity. I would have to wait a few weeks before the series was broadcast for the first time on American TV.  As soon as the content was broadcast on American tv the content would be torrented and as a result, I would be able to watch these programs without having to wait for BskyB to make them available.

As a satellite subscriber, the content is paid for whether I watch it via satellite when it is broadcast or whether I watch it a few weeks earlier by torrent therefore the broadcaster still makes the money. There is the added problem that we are consuming international media therefore there is chatter about the series we would like to watch but can’t because they are not made available yet. As a result, you will find spoilers spread around in a number of places which may spoil the enjoyment of programs. I read about plot developments for series three of the house, for example, therefore I knew what would happen before watching certain episodes. This was slightly frustrating.

The point that broadcasters and content producers have to understand is that we’re in a global community. Whilst America speaks about the BBC and its content Europe speaks about America and it’s output. Through the World Wide Web, both sides of the pond are talking to each other on a daily basis. It’s a globalised media discourse  and downloading torrents is so easy we’ll find more and more people doing it.

In Yesterday’s London Paper a large portion of the newspaper was left over to online video content as a result of the “iplayer” and the mixed reactions it is getting. They did a road test of “internet TV” and the software they tested were the BBC Iplayer, Zattoo, Bit torrents, alluc.org and peekvic.com, tv-links, Joost and Babelgum.

There are two key points to take into account. The first of these is that the tv watching audience is global with everyone knowing what’s going on as well in their countries as in that of others.  The second point is that the technology is ready for global distribution via the internet infrastructure now in place. I wish the European Union would put something in place which would allow us to get the content we want, where and when we want it rather than make us wait.

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