Mixed Media: Can YouTube TV revolutionise the world of television software-makers?

The success of the Indian Premier League cricket telecast on YouTube augurs well for those content creators unable to break through the barriers of our television channels, writes Pradyuman Maheshwari.

e4m by Pradyuman Maheshwari
Published: Mar 23, 2010 8:26 AM  | 3 min read
Mixed Media: Can YouTube TV revolutionise the world of television software-makers?

Television channel has come a long way in India since it started with an experimental telecast in 1959 or even the transmission started in Mumbai in 1972. It was the Asian Games in 1982 when we had non-stop colour and now with the Commonwealth Games happening later this year, it’s good to know that Doordarshan plans to start high definition (HD) transmission by the time the Games begin.

HD exists even today, but in a small way. Sun DTH is piping IPL in HD, and although I haven’t seen it myself, I’m told the pictures are excellent.

However, even as Prasar Bharati will ensure DD goes HD, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has invited comments on the various issues concerning broadcast television. For instance, should be there a limit on the channels that are allowed to be aired, given it’s getting too crowded up in the sky.

For once, I am not going to cry too much about the futility of such a move, given an alternative: YouTube. I’ve been following the IPL matches on it, and find the quality pretty good and the utility super.

I didn’t watch the final minutes of the Deccan Chargers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab encounter in Chennai on Sunday. But rather than catch the highlights on TV, I prefer watching the match on YouTube. There is a five-minute lag between what you see on TV and what comes here, but that’s only for live cricket.

YouTube has come a long way from being a platform for user-generated content. A lot of it was (and still is) amateurish, but to a great extent, it’s the stuff that caught the imagination of the person on the street.

The advantage of watching television via the Internet is that it allows for content to be accessed at any time and anywhere. Thus, just as we had IPL Season 3 on air, there could be other progamming making its way out there. I am looking forward to more channels opting for YouTube or the likes as platform. Also, rather than chase programming heads of networks (and at some places, even grease palms), here’s a forum that truly democratises the medium.

It required a strong sports tournament like the Asian Games to come up with colour TV. IPL got Google to open up YouTube. While a YouTube (or competitor Dailymotion) have been around for a while, it’s only now that content-creators have woken up to how potent it can be as a forum.

The sound quality and picture buffering are issues, but these will be history with broadband speeds getting better.

Post Script: A survey conducted jointly by IMRB and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) reports India having 51 million active Internet users who have used the Net for sometime in a month and 71 million claimed Internet users as of September 2009. According to TRAI, broadband subscribers in India now stand at 8.03 million. These are figures for January 2010. Wireless telephone connections (which include GSM, CDMA and fixed wireless) have crossed 545 million in January 2010. More reason for one to be bullish about YouTube TV or the likes.

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