What Does the Future of TV Mean For Libraries

This topic has been bouncing around in my head for a bit. Thankfully, Bart Ragon at MLA’s Top Technology Trends V discussed it and provided me with the opportunity to blog about it.  View the entire Tech Trends video online (or just Bart’s part at about 60 min) using your conference registration number or your econference registration number.

Bart began his topic on networks and the Internet and how it effects our lives both at home and work.  According to Bart, in 2001 US adoption of broadband Internet was about 9% now in 2011 it is close to 70% and rising.  Our society is increasingly driven by networks and e-content. 

Streaming TV is a excellent example of how networks and e-content are shaping how we think about accessing information.  Bart mentioned the first time he saw true streaming TV was when the United States invaded Iraq. It has evolved and now someone can watch streaming TV to watch shows and videos on demand.  It used to be you could only watch these TV shows or movies on your computer, but with the Wii, Xbox, blu-ray DVD players, Windows Media, etc. you can watch television programming from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, PlayOn, etc. any time any where.

Why is this a big deal?  As Bart mentions, we may not need our cable company any more to watch TV, videos, or movies.  Programming is online and portable.  Not only can you watch this stuff on your TV through the Internet but also on your iPad or smartphone.  The Microsoft Airport TV commerical (YouTube link) of a couple stuck at the airport due to a flight delay watching their favorite reality TV show to kill time, is totally possible.  You can create, watch or share content anywhere with a network.  Additionally, a network now means more than just the Internet, with iPads and smartphones using 3G, or the cellular network, you just need a signal.

Recently we cut the cable TV in my house.  No we did not dig a trench and accidentally cut the line, although we have done that before.  We got rid of cable TV.  While I loved U-verse TV it just got too expensive (sense a theme in my recent posts about AT&T and costs).  If you have a digital TV, you can get your local programming through the air using an antennae.  If you remember the days prior to cable and fussing with rabbit ears or an antennae in the attic, rest assured the picture is WAY better and they offer internal antennas that can pick up signals sitting next to your TV (they look like a small sub woofer).  Now we still kept U-verse for our Internet, and we even kicked up our broadband package.  Using our U-verse home wireless network, computer, and Xbox live we are able to get network TV shows, Hulu, Netflix and another service called PlayOn. *see note at bottom of post* 

Ok so now we know how to save money by cutting the cable, but what does this have to do with libraries? 

It has to do with libraries because, you can now create and share content almost anywhere.  You are not tied down to one device or location.  Just like Bart said, more and more content will become available any where and any way.  The expectations of people are changing to getting more things in multiple ways or have ubiquitous access.  Medical media is out there and growing.  How are we as librarians going to handle this?  This stuff is in the cloud, it isn’t a CD, DVD, or slide that we can physically touch and catalog.   Not only does it make finding these medical multimedia things more difficult, but the issue of access will be turned on to its ear.  In the past access was checking out a DVD and playing it on the TV or your laptop.  Boom, you had access.  Now it involves networks, signal strength, viewing rights, multiple devices, and the ability to adapt to the on demand needs/wants of people.  Bart gave the perfect example of how a medical school put the links to chapters in their ebook collection on their online course system. The content was licensed for 4 concurrent users yet there were over 150 students.  The library had to do some education with the medical school because people already have the beginnings of an on demand mentality. 

As more and things become available whenever and wherever, libraries will need to adapt to provide appropriate service models, education, and resources.

Hulu has a free and a pay version, we have the free version. Netflix has mulitple subscription models, we have the cheapest model which is $8/month for online videos. Personally, I would not get HuluPlus (pay version of Hulu) and Netflix because they are very similar in conent. Hulu has the better network/cable programming (which is available through the free version) and Netflix has the better movie stuff. 

PlayOn is a pay service (multiple pricing models) we paid $40/year. It is software that you install on your Windows PC. It allows you to use your Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or other supported deviceto access feeds from content providers like Hulu, Netflix, Comedy Central, CBS, YouTube, MLB.tv, your personal media, and more. PlayOn is both browser and media server software, built into one. It browses content from various online providers, and displays that content directly on your television, instead of on your PC screen.  PlayOn has an iPhone and iPad app to watch your content on those devices as well.

I have had friends ask me how we cut the cable and still get so much programming for less than $11/month ($20 if you count the cost to bump up our data connection).  However, this was supposed to be more of a post on how on demand TV is a mirror for on demand at work.  If you want more info on how to cut the cable contact me and I will give you the details. It wasn’t overly hard, just a lot of trial and error.

One thought on “What Does the Future of TV Mean For Libraries”

  1. Great post Krafty! Tying the library role with the change in the content delivery landscape (specifically video)is an interesting one.

    I write a blog dedicated to my personal experience on leaving cable. It has since morphed into discussions about the latest streaming technologies, shows, etc. Would love your feedback:


    I do have one post that may be of particular interest to your readers that are considering making the change titled “3 Easy Steps to Free TV”.


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