Television was once considered one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. Without it, people would not have been able to witness men landing in the Moon, of the Berlin Wall being torn down. However, just like TV emerged as a competition for movie theaters, TV has had to face its own competition, in the form of betamax and VHS tapes, as well as more recently DVD’s and the Internet. Therefore, television has had to reinvent itself in order to once again become appealing to the mainstream. This evolution has taken the form of new technology as well as new concepts.
Arguably, first attempt of new television or alternative television was cable TV. This alternative television technology was originally used to reach remote and inaccessible areas, or areas with poor over the air reception. However, this only meant that they were able to view what was already on TV to begin with. It wasn’t until cable TV began to offer something different from network television that the envelop was started to be pushed, in terms of content and presentation. Cable TV also gave rise to public access television, where ordinary people can create and broadcast their own content. Though usually low on production values, public access TV can be said to be made ‘for the people, by the people’, thus diminishing further the barrier between TV and audience.
This leads to the concept of interactive television. Obviously, most people interact with their TV sets by clicking on their remote controls. The goal of this new television modality however is to allow the viewer to interact with the actual content that is being displayed. One way to do this is being able to get more information on what is being advertised, as well as the the ability to buy it. This new television feature is called tv commerce, or ‘tcommerce.’ Another way to go about it is called enhanced TV, which involves two screens, the second one being a computer connected to a website application.
It has been already mentioned that the internet was another source of competition for TV, so what best way to face such competition than to merging with it to get a new type of alternative television? One of the most popular aspects of internet television is called catch-up TV. Also known as replay TV, it allows viewers to watch TV shows for a period of time after they were originally broadcast on regular television. The original broadcasters are the ones who make the shows available, so it’s all fair and square. Internet television can be viewed either by streaming the content with a media player application, or by downloading a specific program on a computer. Most online television channels are free, and able to maintain that status the same way many other websites do, with video advertisement, short commercials and banner advertisement.