By Akosua Kathryn Albritton
Americans and television-it’s an enduring love affair. In fifty years, television has gone from black and white images playing from narrow screens with broadcasts shutting down around midnight to color, high-definition and plasma screens; and 24/7 broadcasting. TV programming is transmitted via antenna, cable, satellite and Dish. Then there is the wide selection. One chooses from nature shows, travel, cartoons, Japanimation, sitcoms, dramas, documentaries, music, movies, sports, news, celebrity news, children’s shows, Christian programming, cuisine and home improvement. In fact, new categories are being birthed at this writing.
This love affair is nurtured by the American desire to have “television on the go.” It began in the 1960’s when transistor radios were outfitted with a third band to receive TV frequencies. It was common to see and hear a radio tuned to a popular soap opera at work. The radio with the TV band was found at the beach and at sports stadiums. Sports fans would switch between radio and TV announcers’ renditions of the plays that occurred before them in living color.
Television on the go in the 21st century takes many forms. The radio is surpassed by Internet TV. This makes sense because PCs have had monitors attached to them for at least two and one-half decades. Internet TV opens the way to television content found on the Web, on handheld devices, PC notebooks and cell phones. Major cell phone makers are busily devising the technology to make it happen. Currently, Cingular, Midwest Cellular and Sprint PCS have TV chips in their phones, which access subscribers to live television. Please note the word “subscribe.” For a monthly fee of about $10 or annual fee of under $100, one may view TV on a cell phone. The technology is in its infancy; therefore, accept muffled sound and jumpy scenes as growing pains.
If you are not one to jump to the latest innovation in cell phones, then investigating Internet TV on your PC may be extremely engaging. Internet TV is both original television content developed for Web cast as well as viewing and purchasing broadcast TV programs, movies and videos. Original Internet TV programs include Bartenders, Chemical Generation and Pork chops and Matzo Balls. Old favorites like I Love Lucy are downloaded into your hard drive. This TV content competes with cable, video/DVD rentals and movie houses. The criticism of Internet TV is that some stations have adware, spy- ware and popup windows attached. Those devices can be avoided by investigating the portal one uses to access the channels and programs.
TV.org is a portal to download broadcast TV programs. After registering, a member moves on to select the desired programs. Portals to live TV include Beeline TV, Any Free TV, Web TV List and WWITV. The URLs to these sites are dot- coms. Beeline TV is a portal to “broadband online television from all over the world.” It categorizes the stations by language. The station names are listed with the country of origin and the media player required to view it. Web TV List is competitive with Beeline TV. It features an online TV guide and choices of prerecorded and live TV Web casts. Its Internet TV station listing is larger than Beeline. This portal categorizes the stations by program category (Christian, comedy, etc.) and by nation of origin. WWITV is another broadband portal for live and on demand TV content. It boasts of listing 940 TV stations. There are many more portals to choose from, but these three have enough to click through for a few days. They offer a Web surfer the chance to watch programs from different countries, to listen to emerging musical stars and watch fresh, experimental programming.
Any Free TV is a portal for downloading broadcast TV shows and movies. A P2P network, or file-trading facilitates this operation. One need only register to become a member. Any Free TV states that it is spyware and adware free. With 240 million users worldwide and estimates of 15 million users logged in at any given time, this portal assures downloading is quick due to the multiple sources accessed to send the content to your hard drive. A member has the option of viewing from the hard drive or burning CDs and DVDs. In fact, they offer to download the CD/DVD burning software. A major plus is that PC systems can run on Windows 95 at 233 MHz and 64 RAM. Imagine: watching The Sopranos when you want as well as pausing, rewinding and fast-forwarding from your PC.
Free Speech (a dot org URL) is the Web site for Free Speech Network. Its motto is “What Democracy Looks Like”. This is a stand-alone Web site rather than a portal to other Web sites. It features an online store to purchase audio, video and books; an online community that contains a calendar of events, blogs and discussion groups. Free Speech is the spot to stream audios and videos of internationally known thought leaders who look at issues concerning global sustenance.
If you are interested in developing online TV content but don’t have all the equipment, consider a provider like Narrow Step (narrowstep.com). Narrow Step builds television channels on the Internet. The corporation also makes the content available on mobile devices, wireless devices, broadband and broadcast TV services.
The name of the game in business is identifying an untapped niche and satisfying it. Do you believe there is a place for poetry slams, vegan cooking or Spanish-language African history programming in Internet TV? Produce the show and connect with Narrow Step or one of its competitors about building a channel for TVYOU.
Have a great Web site? Know of a computer hoax or ferocious virus? Contact me at Akosua@plans4success.com.
By Akosua Kathryn Albritton