I watched TV on TV and I want to hang out
There’s a certain comfort to television, a certain ease that on-demand web services still can’t match. It is simply undeniable that television is easy – you just turn it on and you’re watching something right away. Today you also have to turn on your decoder, but it’s not much more complicated – two button presses, and you’re in.
On the other hand, watching TV through internet services is still quite a complicated process, especially if you want to watch it on your current TV. First, you need to find the service that has the content you want. If you’re in India, that means browsing services like BoxTV, Hooq, and Spuul (or even searching for shows on YouTube), until you find one that has the content you want.
Watching this on your phone, tablet or PC becomes relatively simple from this point on – just start the app, browse and start watching. Some of the apps have better connections than others, but the process is reasonably simple. Of course, this being India, you could be on a “high speed” 2 Mbps connection with a 10 GB “fair” usage policy, after which you can limp along to 512 Kbps.
(Also see: Spuul watching original content ala Netflix)
Still, assuming you have a decent connection and have a reasonable enough FUP to allow you to stream, then watching TV shows on the TV screen still requires a bit of work. You will need something like an HTPC or smart TV to watch your online content on the screen. The other option is to use something like Apple TV or Google’s Chromecast (which supports apps like Netflix and also allows screen mirroring) to cast content from your phone or tablet to the big screen. screen.
Setup doesn’t take much time, and these are pretty simple to use. You’ll simply change the source on your TV from your cable box to the HDMI port with the Chromecast dongle, then launch the video app to watch your shows. Or if you are using an app that is not supported, you will need to launch the Chromecast app first and then start mirroring.
Alright, alright, this is starting to get complicated and the whole point of sitting down to watch TV was just to relax and have fun, right?
(Also see: Pirate Perfect – Apps like Popcorn Time and TVMC are miles ahead of legal options)
But after spending a weekend watching only cable TV on the TV using a DTH connection, this correspondent can tell you that the experience is now so badly compromised that everything just described above seems actually simpler.
The first, biggest, annoyance with “normal” television is advertising; new premium channels that launch with minimal advertising quickly begin to fill content with ads, and after a few years you’re watching more ads than actual content This is definitely not the case when using an internet service like Netflix or an Indian alternative like Box or Hooq.
Typically, a show’s 30-minute slot includes about 8 minutes of advertising; 22 minutes of the episode you’re actually watching, with commercial breaks. That’s a lot, right? Except that shows in India are also censored for a number of reasons, so you end up with even more commercials to fill in the time that was cut. As we’ve noted before, the channels are overzealous when it comes to censorship, which means the show you’re watching often lacks plot points, and [it feels like there is] as much advertising as content.
Except that ads are no longer limited to breaks. You see, someone in the channels realized that we used commercial breaks as a chance to make that trip to the kitchen and have a beer, or go to the bathroom instead of watching commercials.
(Also see: Getting India Hooq-ed to (Legally) Stream Movies and TV Shows)
So now you have banner ads popping up on the screen, hashtags covering one corner, and logos filling the other edges of the screen. The banner will pop up to cover things up when you don’t expect it, and you’ll miss what’s happening on screen because of a distracting animation that will pop up. The channel wants to make sure you’ll watch the big movie that’s on the weekend – and if you want to watch the show you’ve already listened to, it’s just your fault. It’s a far cry from the experience of, say, legally downloading a movie using iTunes and watching it with nothing covering the screen.
Still, let’s say you’ve managed to stay focused despite the 6002 banner ads and aren’t discouraged by the constant commercial breaks. The next thing channels do is assault your eardrums by not leveling the audio properly. The audio level during shows is usually much lower than during commercial breaks, although this issue is trickier than it looks (no pun intended). Who here hasn’t found themselves turning up the volume to watch a show, then reaching for the remote when the pause begins so you can press the mute button before your eardrums burst.
It really feels like the chains are realizing that cord cutting is not a good option in India. But with services like Hooq, Spuul, and BoxTV trying to make a dent in the market, and rumors that Netflix is making its way here, they won’t have the luxury of a captive audience for long. And until then, it’s no surprise that even the less tech-savvy Indians know how to use torrents.
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