2013 - The Year of Follow-Me TV


OK, "TV" is not the right word any more, but it worked for the title.

I'd like to say "follow-me video" - does that work?

Regardless, due to the amazing shiny boxes (SBs) in my life, this year I was never far from Breaking Bad. Or Sons of Anarchy. The Mentalist (great show). House of Cards. Supernatural. Leverage. I even ran through a season or two of watching Tony, Sylvio, Paulie, "Christafuh" and company get their goombah on for old times' sake. (Worst ending ever, David Chase.)

I think we all have a love-hate relationship with our personal SBs, but when it comes to video, and the ability for my shows to follow me around, I've become a junkie. A 100%, no-excuses, no-chance-to-make-it-through-rehab, sold-my-car-for-a-Netflix/Hulu/Crackle-account video addict. I used to have to follow my favorite programming around, and the choices were so much more limited. Heck, "Must-See TV" was only 15 years ago, and I can clearly remember how my Thursdays were programmed around Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. (Happy Festivus by the way, friends.) Now, when I miss an episode of nearly anything, it's accessible almost immediately, and where I am, not where I need to be.

But we all know this. Face it, we've all shut the office door at lunch and leaned on our elbows, thrown the headphones on, watched Walter White cook up a batch, and felt guilty for hating Skyler. At least once. [Insert your favorite binge-show here.] Goodness knows how many times I have accessed my Xfinity app in the past year.

And you know what? I don't mind. The ads are starting to follow me, too. It's great to see monetization of media streams, customized for the viewer, become reality. That takes immense technology - hardware and software, and big brains to write that kind of code.

What's happening in video across the broadband network and how it's delivered has changed - in big chunks - how people now spend their time. We all love entertainment, but hey, we're Americans mostly, and we are always in a rush. Watch Band of Brothers at the gym? No problem. Stream Netflix during lunch to catch up on House of Cards? Easy. But what is just so fun, is the chance to settle in and ...

... binge.

Two, three or even four episodes (it was a Saturday, the boy was at a sleepover) of a continuing series is one of the great things I enjoy. Suspending reality for a few hours and sinking into a great series is just awesome. It gives my wife and I a chance to shut out the world for a while and really, truly be entertained. 45-50 minute chunks of programming, broken by a six-day gap, didn't do it for me. But when we get turned on to a new series by a friend, co-worker ... and we see a roadmap of five seasons ahead of us ... yeah, baby. And let's face it - we are in a video programming revolution as the rules are being broken left and right. New programs, new series, new formats, ultra-quality production value not only by the stalwarts - HBO, SHOWTIME, etc. - but even by companies that just a year ago were simple content aggregators. Netflix and Hulu, kudos. You got Kevin Spacey to commit to a Netflix production? Kevin-frigging-Spacey? Props.

So if this wonderful, technology-enabled new lifestyle is changing the way we absorb and enjoy entertainment, our demand for quality and quantity will increase. Mobile becomes king. Speed, queen. Or maybe vice versa. Where my programming is served/cached makes a difference. How it is encoded makes a difference. What ads are inserted makes a difference. So far, so good as far as I am concerned. Poor QoS/QoE experiences, for me, have been rare.

So video providers, programmers, technology providers: I, and my SBs, salute you. You enhanced my life, and I'm happy to say that, as a person who makes his living in this industry, it's been a blast mixing business with pleasure.

Happy Holidays.

P.S. Thanks to all our readers and vendors for helping BTR achieve a record year. Our web traffic nearly doubled, we launched our first webcasts and show events, had record applications for the Diamond Technology Reviews, launched our Special Report series, and just last week debuted our new Google Hangout series. Next year, we celebrate our tenth anniversary as a brand and will be delivering even more unique education and information - in more unique formats - in 2014.

Tim Hermes is BTR's Founder and Publisher. Reach him at timh@pennwell.com.

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