THE YEAR is 2016. Venue: Eden Gardens. A packed stadium is enjoying the match with pop-out screens on seat arms -to watch replays that they might miss.
You are watching the action live at home and the experience is no different from being there since it is through ultra-definition (UD) TV. Its USP is the zoom capability to get a magnified view of the action—a catch in slips or a huge six—with inbuilt capability to show replays, even if they are not telecast. Of course, by then TV would have integrated completely with the web. Geeks call it an ‘immersive experience’. They are less sure whether it will still be called a TV!
Already, we can check mails on the TV screen, watch favourite sitcoms on mobiles and matches on Tablets like iPads. The traditional TV is on the threshold of change and very soon, it will be obsolete.

With entertainment becoming onthe-go, lot of users now want to control what they watch and when they want to watch. The Internet lends itself to that. For users like Shreya Vasudevan, who stays in a hostel and does not want to miss the shows she follows, a steady wi-fi connection comes to rescue. “I just stream shows on channels like Megavideo and watch them whenever I want,” says the 19-year-old student at Anna University, who not only watches the shows at her convenience but also discusses them on forums that some sites have.

And it’s changing fast. The good old TV that was a piece of hardware to capture and decode signals is getting smart. TV will get IP addresses and wifi features. Consumers will create playlists or personal videos, information streams from Twitter , Facebook or see photo albums that reside in the internet cloud.

It’s not the traditional TV makers, the likes of Sony, Samsung or LG calling the shots but laptop, desktop and software makers and search experts. That includes HP, Dell, Apple and Google. Experts echo Shreya’s thoughts in predicting what’s in store for cable TV “TV will be dead in the future. At least, the scheduled show format will soon be gone,” said Akhilesh Tuteja, executive director, KPMG. There will be a gradual shift to unscheduled programmes which could be recorded matches, Internet shows and also TV shows.

Users like Shreya would like the shift to happen sooner rather than later. But there are challenges like the lack of high-speed Internet connection and the lack of good content providers in India like Netflix and Hulu which allows a user to stream shows and matches live on their television set. Experts, however, believe that the change is just waiting to happen. For instance, Google TV is a harbinger of that change. Co-developed with Intel, Sony and Logitech, Google TV integrates Android operating system and the Chrome browser to create an entirely new experience.

It is internet, video-on-demand and TV, rolled in one. Saurabh Singh, a software engineer is already seeing this change happen. “There are some shows that are only on the internet,” says the 26-year-old whose friends have AppleTV and watch it on big LCD screens.

The attraction of TV will be limited to its display capabilities without its partner the cable. For Singh, who is among the many who choose convenience over convention, this won’t seem like a huge loss.

But for users like Chitra Kannan, a housewife who anxiously waits for her family to gather around dinner time to watch a particular show, finds the whole idea disconcerting. “I know convenience has its advantages. But there’s charm in waiting for a week to watch an episode of your favourite show, running to catch the bus so you won’t miss it is something else,” she reminisces.

Taken From ” The Economic Times” 01 February 2011