Clear Broadcasting

Clear Technology | Clear Streaming | Clear Broadcasting

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and/or video signals which transmit programs to an audience. The original term "broadcast" referred to the literal 'sowing of seeds' on farms, by scattering them over a wide field. It was first adopted by early radio engineers from the Midwestern United States to refer to the analogous dissemination of radio signals. Broadcasting forms a very large segment of the mass media. Broadcasting to a very narrow range of audience is called narrowcasting.

Internet Television

Internet television (otherwise known as Internet TV, Catch-up TV or Online TV) is television service distributed via the Internet. It has become very popular at the end of the first decade of the 21st century due to services such as the BBC iPlayer (in and limited to the United Kingdom) and Hulu (limited to the United States); see List of Internet television providers.

Internet television allows its users to choose the program or the TV show they want to watch from an archive of programs or from a channel directory. The 2 forms of viewing Internet television are streaming the content directly to a media player or simply downloading the program/show onto the users computer. With the "TV on Demand" market growing, these on demand websites or applications are a must have for major televison broadcasters. For example the BBC's iPlayer brings in users which stream more than One Million videos per week, with one of the BBC's headline shows "The Apprentice" taking over 3 - 5% of the UK's internet traffic due to people watching the first episode on iPlayer.

Every night the use of On Demand TV peaks at around 10pm, Most providers of the service provide several different formats and quality controls so that the service can be viewed on many different devices. Some services now offer a HD service along side their SD, streaming is the same but offers the quality of HD to the device being used, as long as it is using a HD screen. During Peak times the BBC's iPlayer sends out 12GB (Gigabytes) worth of information a second, around the same as sending out 20 DVDs content per second.Over the course of a month the iPlayer sends out 7 Petabytes of information which is the same as 11 Million Dvd's content. This wide use of on demand services is causing Internet Service Providers a great deal of issues.

Before 2006 any Catch-up services were mostly P2P (Peer to Peer), where users would download an application and data would be shared between the users rather than the service provider giving the now more commonly used steaming method. Now most service providers have moved away from the P2P idea and are now using the Streaming method. This is good for the service provider as in the old P2P system the distribution costs were high and the servers normaly couldn't handle the large amount of downloading and data transfer.

Archives

An archive is a collection of information and media much like a library or interactive storage facility. It is a necessity for an on demand media service to maintain archives so that users can watch programmes that have already been aired on standard broadcast television. However these archives can vary from a few weeks to months to years, depending on the curator and what programme it is.

For example, BBC iPlayer offers most of its programmes for 30 days after their original air date on the BBC. However some special programmes such as Panorama are available for an extended period because it is a factual programme and is highly watched and so is worth the extra money needed to host it for longer.

In contrast 4OD channel 4's on demand service offers many of its much older programmes as well that were originally aired years ago. An example of this is the comedy "The IT Crowd" where users can view the full series on the internet player. The same is true for other hit channel 4 comedies such as "The Inbetweeners" and "Black Books".

Having an extensive archive however can bring problems along with benefits. Large archives are expensive to maintain, server farms and mass storage is needed along with ample bandwidth to transmit it all. Vast archives can be hard to catalogue and sort so that it is accessable to users.

The benefits in most cases outweigh these problems. This is because large archives bring in far more users who in turn watch more media, leading to a wider audience base and more advertising revenue. Large archives will also mean the user will spend more time on that website rather than a competitors, leading to starvation of demand for the competitors.

Technologies used for Internet television

The Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) consortium of industry companies (such as SES Astra, Humax, Philips, and ANT Software)is currently promoting and establishing an open European standard (called HbbTV) for hybrid set-top boxes for the reception of broadcast and broadband digital TV and multimedia applications with a single user interface.

Current providers of internet television use various technologies to provide a service such as Peer to Peer (P2P) technologies and VoD systems. BBC iPlayer makes use of Adobe Flash Player to provide streaming video clips and other software provided by Adobe for its download service. DRM (digital rights management) software is also incorporated into many internet television services Sky Player has software that is provided by Microsoft to prevent content being copied. Internet television is also cross platform, the Sky Player service has been expaned to the Xbox 360 on October 27th and to Windows Media Center and then to Windows 7 PC's on November 19th. BBC iPlayer is also available through Virgin Media's on demand service and other platforms such as FetchTV and games consoles including the Xbox 360, Wii and the PlayStation 3. Other platforms that internet television is available on include mobile platforms such as the iPhone and iPod Touch, Nokia N96, Sony Ericsson C905 and many other mobile devices.