Archive for the ‘tv’ Category
Soon to be available nightly, zero days a week
The flexibility of being able to download audio and video programmes to my mobile devices is one of the things that’s revolutionised by media consumption in the last decade. I have a 64GB ipod which is pretty much dedicated to podcasts, and it’s usually complaining that I’m about to run out of space.
I’m a massive consumer of documentary and current affairs, but I watch very little on-the-day TV news. And thanks to NBC’s decision to kill the podcast feed of Nightly News, I’ll now be watching even less.
I’ve been downloading NBC Nightly News pretty much every day for the last couple of years. It’s a great contrast to UK daily news programmes. I enjoy the different presentational style, I enjoy the different editorial decisions. But I also enjoy the very traditional collection of ‘stuff that happened today’ packaged into one simple bulletin.
There’s a helpful announcement pointing me in the direction of other ways to watch, via the dedicated app, or on the web, but here’s why the other options don’t work for me:
Both the app and website options need a live internet connection. I don’t always have one. The fantastic thing about a podcast or download is that it works wherever you are, even when your connection is patchy. I’m almost always enroute somewhere when I’m watching, hence my internet is always patchy.
Neither the app or wesbite options allow me to watch at anything other than real-time. I have something like 35 programmes on my device and in order to fit everything in, I almost always play things back at a faster speed.
This may seem extremely geeky (and I admit it probably is) but I often listen or watch up to 5 hours of media in a day, and I only have about three hours to do so. The ability to compress time is really valuable.
I chose an ipod specifically because is has the best implementation of this that I’ve found so far, as it attempts to keep the pitch the same, while increasing the speed. It doesn’t sound normal, but it isn’t so strange that you can’t listen or understand for quite long periods. A 30 minute show magically becomes 15 minutes long and I have 15 minutes to watch something else.
The audio version of Nightly News will still be available yes, and I could download that and play it back at a higher speed. However, without the pictures, I would do better with a dedicated radio programme instead, radio reporters don’t constantly refer to things you cannot see.
I don’t know the reason NBC are getting rid of Nightly News in video, but in doing so, mainstream TV loses another viewer and they hurt their overall accessibility at a time when ease-of-access is one of the most important things for a media producer. Make it harder for people to get to your offer, and the majority just won’t bother.
If I had the time, I could probably do a screen-scrape of their web video and get the programme back, but there’s so much competition out there, I’ll probably just switch to something else.
I never cease to be amazed at how organisations suffering from audience-flight make decisions which will exacerbate the problem, but at least my ipod has a bit more space now.
Score: Innovation 1, mainstream media nil. Again.
The contents of a building where I used to work are being slowly sold off.
The closure and sale of BBC Television Centre has ignited strong emotions and there was a protest to prevent planning permission for a redevelopment, involving some high-profile celebrities of British culture, to no avail.
As an armchair economist it’s fascinating to pick out a couple of results of some of the completed parts of the auction, because for me at least, the prices just don’t make any sense.
They sold for a combined total of over £1,000!
I’m amazed, particularly as there’s not much about these which is scarce. The BBC still occupies three buildings across the road from TV Centre – I’m in one of them most weeks – and there’s still a machine that makes these signs and labels. If they’re worth this much money, someone should be running that machine night and day cranking more of them out!
How about lot 1444:
£55 for a door to nowhere, and you could surely make this for half that price with bits from a DIY shop. With this piece though, I can understand more why it is valued highly
It would be interesting to know the history of this door. It’s possible it was originally made for radio drama and came over to Wood Lane if it was needed to re-dub sound effects for TV. Or it could have a longer heritage and started life in a film dubbing suite, maybe in Ealing, or in Lime Grove. It could however just as easily been knocked up in 20 mins by a TV Centre carpenter in the 1980s.
It’s clearly the possibilities of this history, and the unusualness of the item which make it worth more.
Time for a reality check though. TV Centre was also full of functioning valuable equipment. Great for radio stations, universities, or small TV / film companies. Let’s take a look at the going rate for something still being used, like a professional digital videotape recorder.
I think ‘thetoplens’ got a bargain there!
The sale of stuff from TV Centre isn’t over yet! Two more auctions are scheduled, more equipment here, and you can still buy the satellite dishes and comms equipment. Although being unmaintained and exposed to the elements for well over two years, I’m not sure how much operational value there’s left in them. Plus for a domestic bidder in need of a new birdbath, you’re going to need a very large garden, and probably planning permission!
flickr / peterdaniel
Let me know in the comments if you got a bargain, or whether you consider you got something valuable, no matter what you paid.
One bit of kit I probably won’t be able to keep going much longer
In the midst of my zeal to get more value out of some of my older electronics I’ve just had a setback.
This morning I turned on my Tivo and got this screen:
To be honest, I’ve been expecting this news. There were always going to be two options. Either the hardware was going to expire (something I’d tried to mitigate already 3 years ago by upgrading the hard disc, the only mechanical component), or Tivo itself would turn the system off.
Option two happened first. Yes, I am an early adopter. Tivo launched in Britain in October 2000. But in having my Tivo for something like 8 years, I’m surprised that they waited quite this long.
The thing about Tivo which makes it different from other hard disc recorders is that it depends on a regular download of TV and radio programme data provided by Tivo itself. No EPG data, and the box becomes a dumb VHS device you have to laboriously set for each recording.
Tivo was something that Sky brought in to help navigate their hundreds of satellite channels. But a year later Sky realised it was something they could do themselves and launched the Sky+ box in 2001.
Tivo lingered for a little while but decided to stop selling their device at the start of 2003.
All that time it was actually Sky which maintained the Tivo platform. You never needed a Sky subscription however, Tivo worked perfectly well with Freeview, which is what I used it with. If you had a problem with your subscription it’s Sky’s call centre you get put through to.
I actually bought a Topfield Freeview Plus recorder a year ago and I have been running the two side by side. I’d been trying to wean myself off Tivo because I knew my hardware didn’t have a future although I still use it on a daily basis. The reason why is significant and it’s something that today’s manufacturers still need to pay attention to.
1) Tivo is really simple to use.
2) The box predicts what I want to watch and if I forget to record something, it normally does it anyway.
And that’s it. That’s what’s kept me using it for 8 years. Many’s the time I’ve been on the train in the morning and while flicking through the free paper realised there was something on TV that night I wanted to watch. Dammit, I’d think. I wish I’d set the recorder.
Imagine my delight when I got home and discovered that this gorgeous box had done it for me! There was always something on TV I wanted to watch. I stopped watching linear TV (and advertisements) the same week, and I’ve never gone back. That knack of prediction is something Freeview and Sky never managed to replicate.
Compared with the Topfield device I have now, even 8 years on, the original Tivo interface is a *lot* easier to use.
I shall miss it.
But Tivo is about to re-launch on a new platform and want rid of legacies like my old box. Although I imagine that with Tivo now being associated with Virgin Media , Sky don’t want to keep it going any longer. Maybe there are contractual issues. Who knows.
It would be interesting to know how many of the original Thomson Scenium devices are still out there, and what proportion of them are still paying £10 a month for the EPG download (there was also an option to buy a ‘lifetime’ EPG subscription for £300).
I will now have to try and make the best of the last few months of my Tivo’s life. It’s an analogue device so keeping it going beyond digital switchover was another issue on my mind. Getting out of the habit of tagging programmes I like or dislike will be a struggle.
But viewing has moved on. My next TV will be HD, as will the recording box I buy with it. It will have at least 5x the recording space, although the number of TV channels coming into it will stay about the same (I intend staying on Freeview)
My entertainment choice will still change though. My next TV will be able to download directly from the web and playback media from any device within a WiFi radius.
What won’t change is the amount of time I have to be able to watch the damn thing!
Get in quick or lose HD on Freeview
OFCOM are currently requesting comment from stakeholders in the UK’s digital terrestrial TV network. As tax and licence-fee payers, that’s most of us.
They are being asked by the BBC to authorise a change in the way the new high definition multiplexes are operated to allow for the use of encryption.
Encrypting HD-DTT risks stunting the growth of high-definition in this country and threatens to criminalise anyone who’s using any sort of non-standard cheap-and-cheerful reception equipment (which by law you are required to have a TV licence for). If you’re using open source receiver software, you can kiss that goodbye should this change go through.
What amazes me is that OFCOM published their letter on the 3rd of September and want comments back by the 16th. Err, that’s today!
That’s 9 working days to get comments in on a proposal that has far-reaching ramifications on the way the system of TV distribution works in Britain. Does this indicate that OFCOM doesn’t grasp the serious implications of this change, that it just writes to the ‘industry’ and allows such a short time for responses?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good background to why this request is being made.
And if you’re still reading this today, get some comments off to