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Gone are the days when the very best televisions came with five channels programmed into them; with some offering a couple of options while others presented such a bad reception due to location and aerial signals that consumers were more likely to lean on the radio than their television sets. Today, in stark comparison, TV packages offered by various providers are so broad and wide ranging that consumers can choose from a variety of different package deals focussing on different types of programme and viewing experience - with top examples being sports packages and movie packages, family packages and specialist children’s packages, all of which come with their own financial commitments and contractual obligations.
For the most part, almost all modern televisions come with a selection of channels programmed into them, including those five classic channels that adult consumers will remember from their own childhood as well as a series of other mainstream channels which are now considered part of the basic television digital package.
Looking back over the history of television and how television packages have developed amid the rise in televisual technology provisions, the main types of television are analog, digital and smart TV’s - all of which come with their own channel packages and potential extra features. An analog television is one which picks up on radio waves transmitted from points all over the country, using an aerial to distinguish television aerials and channel the best reception through to individual television sets depending on consumer location. Meanwhile, digital is essentially what was created to provide an upgrade; delivering better quality television and much higher resolution on television screens, supporting the HD viewing of modern televisions and using digital signals to reach packets of data and thus be able to tune into more channels.
And then we have the top product available on the modern market which not only creates an enhanced consumer experience in terms of viewing, sound and choice, but which also creates a multitude of TV package selections for families which include movie packages and different streaming apps as well as standard broadcasting channels. Smart tv’s are what most consumers look for today, with most TV packages working across all manner of smart tv’s – but before we dive into smart tv’s and the kinds of TV packages on offer, it pays to first understand the history of the television and how it has evolved over time to become the entertainment provider we know and love today.
The evolution of modern television
In exploring the evolution of the modern television, we don’t just mean the device or television product itself – after all, a high quality screen resolution and surround sound system is not much use if a consumer can’t benefit from a wide range of different things to watch on the television. The evolution of television, and its status as such a popular means of entertainment today, is all thanks to the huge steps that have been made in the televisual industry – all of which are designed to enhance the amount of channels available, to widen the choice presented to consumers, and to ensure that all who pay for various packages are getting their money’s worth in terms of reliability and quality.
Looking back over the earliest decades of television, it seems almost unprecedented that today consumers would have such a vast level of choice available in terms of the channels available and the kind of things that can be accessed and watched through the television. Not only has technology evolved to allow us access to all these different channels, but the television industry itself has also evolved in order to mastermind, create and produce such huge varieties of programmes and movie options – meeting the consistently high demand of consumers who have become used to a wide choice and variety of options, and thus has become expectant of new and unique programmes and channels on a regular basis.
To look at the evolution of TV packages and the creation of so many different channels, it seems as though much of this has come as a result of largescale companies owning both the channels that consumers want to watch and have access to, and those that consumers aren’t really that interested in at all. All the cable providers that consumers deal with directly – for example Sky and Virgin Media – build and create the infrastructure which allows channels to be transported and shown on the consumer’s television sets through their various package agreements, and usually these packages include deals both for huge numbers of channels – both good and bad. The media companies which own all of these channels will tell a provider that they can have access to the channels or not – there is no picking and choosing, and there is no ability to cut certain channels from a package.
And that is largely what explains the sheer multitude of programmes and channels which are available across most modern TV packages. Consumers sign up to a certain package because of the channels it provides access to – but they get a whole lot of extra channels that they are not interested in, as well. And a lot of this comes at extra cost – meaning that consumers have to shop smart and make themselves aware of the fine print regarding what exactly is included in their package and what they really need.
Top providers in the TV packages industry
Did you know that most of the programmes and shows that consumers watch are actually owned by the same few brands? Companies like Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, Sky, AMC Networks, and of course the BBC all own and run tons of channels under their own umbrella company name – meaning that if you sign up for a TV package including at least one of their channels, you will inevitably get access to all of them. For some consumers this may seem like a bargain – after all, you’re getting way more channels than you requested as part of the package. However, when you start to consider how many of those channels are of little interest to you as a consumer, but that they have likely bumped up the cost of your package fee, it starts to become a little more of an issue.
That’s why sites like Which? have created and released full articles and blogs on how to make sure that you only sign up to a TV package which works for you. What these articles do is explore the other benefits to TV packages which exist outside of the provision of different channels – including the bundles which providers offer in terms of providing TV, broadband and phone services through one umbrella package, and those bundles which either include or exclude live broadcasting channels due to the rise in streaming services reducing many consumers’ demand for live television. Consumers will also need to know and be aware of the TV providers which actually serve and provide packages to their area, with Virgin’s cable TV service being one of the few which doesn’t reach every home in the UK and so many consumers will find that there are certain services which they can’t actually pick up due to their locality.
The two biggest TV package industry providers at the moment are Sky and Virgin Media, as these not only provide the major mainstream channels but also a huge selection of their own sub-sectional channels; for example Sky TV packages which provide and promote a wide variety of interest-specific channels such as Sky History, Sky Documentaries, and Sky Atlantic. However it is worth noting that not all televisions and TV packages automatically offer recording capabilities and the ability to rewind live television – for this, consumers will need a deal or package which includes a PVR (personal video recorder), else they will have to put up with catch up television options for those things that they have missed.
Some of the other less expansive but just as highly regarded providers in the industry include:
- EE TV
All of these options tend to offer a selection of channels as part of the standard package, with consumers able to add other channels on a pay-per-month basis – though there are certain channels such as the Sky-exclusive ones which are only available through a Sky TV package.
When it comes to ascertaining and selecting the ideal TV package for you, the most important thing to do is work through the channels that you need, understanding that more channels means more cost, and that not every package and provider is available in every area. You can also pay more for things like High Definition and Ultra High Definition which will add even more channels to your package, however again the provision of this is dependent on extra cost and will require the support of an HD television in order to present the feature to the optimum quality.
Trends in the TV packages industry
One of the major trends which is changing and impacting the industry around TV packages is the rise in internet streaming services, which are essentially offering viewers with more options which they can access and watch through their portable devices and smart TV’s at their own leisure – without the time specific demands of a mainstream television show. As a consumer in the modern world, used to being presented with things that can be accessed and enjoyed almost instantly, the provision of streaming services which upload entire boxsets in one go is like heaven – supporting binge watching and providing consumers with access to every episode instantly rather than making them wait for a new episode to be released weekly, as is still the case across most mainstream channels and packages. The fact is that internet streaming services may be bundled in with our modern smart TV’s, but they are also considered a competitor to many TV package providers, forcing providers like Sky and Virgin to widen their provisions and consider new and innovative ways of keeping up with consumer demand. This is what has led to the creation of apps like SkyGo and catch-up TV apps like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub – all of which are designed to give consumers that constant anytime access to the channels, shows and movies that they want to watch.
One of the other obstacles facing the TV package industry is the way that consumers are constantly looking for ways to avoid paying – mainly by sharing package log-ins and using multiple devices to access one TV package contract. This is the case across streaming sites like Amazon Prime and Netflix, and has also affected Sky in the past, though the latter have cracked down on this and put up blockers to stop consumers from accessing Sky accounts on more channels than their package allows.
The final trend which has been designed and implemented to elevate the consumer experience with TV packages is the development of boxes which now allow the user to watch one thing, while recording multiple other things at the same time across a range of different channels. Recording has long been a popular concept of modern TV packages and smart TV’s, though in the past this has always limited the usability of the television and left the user only able to watch one channel while recording one other.
To look at the TV package industry as a whole, it is important to note the multitude of ways in which the industry has grown and evolved over time to continue to meet the demands of its target audience and consumer base. In essence, the more channels that a consumer wants access to, the more their package will cost – with targeted advertising and social media making it easier than ever for TV package providers and streaming providers to get their new shows and deals in front of the eyes of captive consumers. Television will always play a big part in the entertainment industry for the modern family, and with so many packages now on offering ranging from sports specific packages to movie packages and more, it seems as though finding the right deal is now as much about keeping costs down with as few superfluous channels as possible as it is about widening the selection of channels available.