Did you know?
Zero TV is a term coined by the Nielsen Co. to classify a growing segment of the population who watch TV shows and movies on the Internet via mobile devices and computers instead of broadcast, cable or satellite. These homes and offices fall outside the definition of the traditional TV watcher and this trend worries providers and advertisers as the number of people signing up for traditional TV service has recently slowed dramatically in the U.S. Here is a brief overview.
What is it?
Internet TV/Online TV can either stream or download video and audio to your home/office Internet device. It can provide live programming (like Aereo, broadcast TV, or radio) or Video on Demand (VoD like NetFlix or Hulu) but is not the same as WebTV (like YouTube) where the video is made specifically for the Web. Content providers are international although some restrict their content to certain geographies.
How it works
Since many of these sites are free, some show advertising — a few commercials or banner advertisements before the program starts, or some 30-second commercials during the program.
You can access this content through your computer by googling the appropriate website and bookmarking it on your browser or by purchasing a USB that already contains bookmarks of many of these websites with a simplified interface for program access such as Rabbit TV or Ideaworks Internet TV (about $10 each) on Amazon. Check out each product on YouTube or Amazon for reviews and demonstrations. Both products can allow easier access to hundreds of TV and radio programs.
What you need
A mobile or WiFi enabled device with a fast connection to the Internet, enough bandwidth and the right browser. Some sites only work with Google’s Chrome browser and some require you to download their own media player or app. A surprising amount of good content is free, while others offer inexpensive on-demand programming, or monthly subscriptions.
To get the video or audio from the Internet to play on your TV (if your TV doesn’t have that capability built in) you could choose a gaming console (Xbox 360 or Playstation3), a Blu-ray player, AppleTV, Boxee, RoKu, VuNow, Android devices, Mac or PC, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, and WiFi enabled tablets. A wireless USB device called PLAiR can stream all the video content from your computer to your HDTV so you don’t have to deal with cables and set-up each time you want to watch.
How to get it
Use Google to find and log onto some popular American sites for a broad and inexpensive selection of free, on-demand, or subscription, video and audio programming. Some popular sites include: Hulu, Netflix, WWITV.com, VuDu, Amazon on Demand, iTunes (for Apple devices) GoogleTV, Snag Films, TED, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Aereo (live TV), Crackle, Disney, Popcornflix, Pookyfish, Epix, FilmOn, HBOGo, iTVmediaPlayer, NBCDirect, OVGuide, PBS.com, TTheBlazeTV and many international sites. Google “Internet TV” for more listings and be aware of family-friendly and adult programming.
How hard is it to use?
Each site can be different. It takes a bit of effort to find and bookmark, but after that, it’s about the same as using a cable set controller.
The future of communications is the Internet. Conventional telephone service and TV broadcasting will be completely obsolete in the near future with everything going over the new superfast, high-bandwidth, wireless, Internet! Also driving this evolution are advertisers who can more accurately quantify and segment their marketing messages on the Internet.
It’s free — give it a try. The only thing you have to lose is your high monthly TV bill which includes all those channels you never watch and don’t care about. Low-tech alternatives include free off-the-air broadcast TV as well as free movies and a wide range of programming from public library DVDs and CDs.