Television is in the middle of a revolution. A revolution brought about by a little thing known as the internet. Where traditionally the broadcast technology that made beaming video programming from one place to many different homes was a passive form of entertainment, the rise of technologies like DVRs and the Internet has allowed us to be more actively engaged in where, when and how we want to watch TV. And thanks to the web, IPTV is going to take that shift to the next level.
Wikipedia tells us that the first IPTV occurance in the world happened back in 1994 when a show called World News Now was broadcast online using videoconferencing software. But it was this decade that it really started to take off, as broadband speeds worldwide increased sufficiently to allow the high volumes of data required for video to be transferred fast enough into homes.
Around the world, both television broadcast companies and ISPs began launching IPTV services. At the same time, there were startups like Joost that tried to enhance the online television watching experience. In Australia, Telstra were one of the first companies to jump on the IPTV train with the launch of BigPond Movies and BigPond TV. In the US, Hulu – which was a joint effort from several major US networks - completely revolutionised how TV was broadcast into the internet for the mass market.
Today, there's a definite focus towards online television services. The ABC is leading the way with its iView service. Foxtels' recently launched Download service - while it has its bugs - is also a huge step forward for the technology. The other free to air networks, through their joint Freeview marketing machine, are definitely working on launching their own online TV portal as well. Both Microsoft and Sony, through their gaming consoles, are making the push to deliver video downloads online, and TiVo are also expanding their internet entertainment portfolio.
And on top of all that, all the TV manufacturers are now building ethernet ports into their television sets, which may not offer anything more than widgets today - but in the future, who knows what kind of TV broadcasts you'll be able to download direct to your TV?
Of course, at the moment in Australia, we're partially hamstrung by our inadequate broadband network. If and when the NBN is complete though, it's pretty safe to say that online television will play a huge part in sucking up the new bandwidth...
History of TV is Giz AU’s month-long look back at the development of the world-changing medium and its influence on our daily lives.