Internet Issues

The Disadvantages of Online Video and Internet TV



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Cable TV has been the shining stars ever since broadcasting started. With the Internet, many "TV" shows are moving on to the world wide web. Websites exist so users may watch episodes online. In addition, services such as Netflix grant access to streaming media through a person's Internet connection directly on that person's monitor by subscribing through a monthly fee. Although both of these methods for online video and Internet TV seem convenient, there are disadvantages that may make a potential consumer think twice.

• The Advantages

Before covering the disadvantages, it is only fair to mention the benefits of online video and Internet TV. Both can be watched at any time, rather than wait for a specific time slot. If you missed that new episode at 8pm, you just have to wait until the station uploads the episode to their website. Secondly, some people feel they save money. Instead of having both an Internet bill and a cable bill, all that is required for watching videos online is Internet. Additionally, services like Netflix tend to be much cheaper than cable TV packages. However, past theses few advantages lie many disadvantages to online video and internet TV.

• Wait Times

With cable TV, you can easily check out which shows are premiering at which times and on which channels. Cable TV nowadays offers TV guides built-in as well as search functions. For online video, it's not quite as guaranteed.

Many TV shows require a wait time before they are officially uploaded. For example, House M.D., a popular Fox 5 TV show, has new episodes uploaded an entire week after premiering on television. Fans of the show who watch through online video have to spend seven whole days without having the episode spoiled by friends or websites. 

For people who suscribe to services like Netflix, which allow you to watch DVDs online, the wait time are even greater. Before episodes or movies become available, they first have to be officially released on DVD or Blu-Ray.

• Availability of Episodes

Not all episodes may be available online; some TV shows aren't available online at all. In order to prevent people from watching all of the episodes online, some broadcasting companies only allow a select few episodes for a show to be streamed. With cable TV, at least reruns and marathon event help new viewers catch up with older episodes.

• Learning Curve and Sharing

Television has been a popular medium for decades, so most people would have some idea of how to use a simple remote. For online video, the stream would be on the person's computer. This makes sharing more difficult as a computer screen is usually smaller than a TV screen. This can be fixed by connecting the computer to the TV monitor, but many people do not know how to really use a computer - let alone learn how to have a computer screen transferred over to a TV screen.

For services that are hooked directly to a TV monitor, such as Hulu Plus on the PlayStation 3, or Netflix on the Nintendo Wii, it is a bit easier to let a family watch a show together. However, setting up the service requires knowing how to connect the hardware (in this example, the PS3 or Wii) to the Internet. It also requires knowing how to access the service from that hardware and then learning to navigate menus. This is far less intuitive than just asking a cable company to install the service and then using a remote to browse through channels.

Watching videos online or through a TV Internet service requires a lot of knowledge to go past all of the potential disadvantages. You will need to verify which shows are available, how many episodes are offered, learn how to set up the service, and figure out how to make sure a show can be enjoyed by the entire family. This is a lot of information for you, and your family, to learn and grasp. At the end of the day, coming back from work, having to navigate through menus can become a bigger headache than anticipated.

More about this author: Caren Hannon

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