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Web-Based TV Services Are on the Rise: Is This the Dawn of a New Age for Television?

If you ask anyone what is the one service that has radically transformed at home entertainment, the first word on everyone’s lips will be Netflix. The online streaming service that was founded in 1997 and started providing online movie-on-demand streaming as we know it in 2007 has become synonymous with this type of entertainment and has boosted a whole market that, 20 years ago, no one would have predicted would grow so popular. Ever since Netflix became a trailblazer, several other web and cloud-based applications have emerged, many of them moving onto live TV streaming. Could a digital TV revolution be underway?

Video-on-Demand Revenue on the Rise

Services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu have quickly expanded to offer original TV series and even movies that they produced. They have also partnered up with TV networks to air their original content around the globe: for instance, in 2018, BBC Two saw its extremely popular series Peaky Blinders being broadcast through Netflix in the USA. Yet, live TV content remains another issue and this trend has started mostly with TV networks building their own web applications to tap into the momentum of audiences becoming more and more familiar with online streaming. All in all, revenue in the “Video-on-Demand” market is projected to explode to almost $22 million in 2018, demonstrating a 6.2% annual growth rate to reach more than $27 million by 2022, with video streaming amounting to more than $14 million in profits for 2018.

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TV Networks and Online TV Are Catching Up

Following the lead of online streaming providers, web-based TV applications like BBC’s iPlayer have quickly expanded to offer on-demand and offline streaming options, allowing users to download content and watch it at their own pace. Other internet TV providers offer their services over-the-top, meaning that the consumer is not required to own a TV license or a cable TV subscription. Sling TV, owned by American company Dish, seems to be a pioneer in that regard, having reached over 2.2 million subscribers this February, marking a 47% rise since that time last year. TV network CBS has also disclosed that its similar web TV products, CBS All Access and Showtime OTT had reached 5 million subscribers altogether. Web-based TV comes with many perks for audiences and more and more people are converted.

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A New Age for Consumers and Providers Alike

The concept known as “anytime viewing” has won over consumers, as being able to choose when to watch is very much in line with today’s hectic pace of life. It also helps that mobile device entertainment is on the rise and many commuters have welcomed the possibility to download content and watch offline. Web-based TV applications mean that providers tap into a rising client demand with significant profit, but they also come with increased requirements especially in terms of cybersecurity. Providers routinely store and process sensitive personal information such as banking details online in order to offer services, meaning that they need to invest in cybersecurity tools like a web application firewall in order to make sure that they can fend off hacker attacks aiming to deny services or steal data. Recently, Netflix subscribers fell victim to a phishing campaign aiming to get them to disclose financial data using the company’s logo. If providers are not careful, scams like these could cost a fortune in terms of reputation damages.

As more and more people turn to online TV streaming, could this mean a cultural paradigm shift from the golden age of TV as we knew it to new, unexplored frontiers? All we can say is, stay tuned to find out.