The way the world is watching TV is changing rapidly. We are entering a very exiting time in history, with the development of widespread broadband Internet. Just 40-50 short years ago, television was limited to just a few network channels that the family would gather around the TV set at night to watch and enjoy together.
It was not long ago, that there were not hundreds (nearing thousands) of channels to choose from. It was not long ago that there was not something to watch on every channel 24 hours a day. In the UK in the fifties for example, TV networks had strict rules about the number of hours they could broadcast between 9am and 11pm. Specifically they had to cut off programming between 6pm and 7pm so that parents could trick their children that the TV was off so they could go to bed.
How things have changed in 50 years. Now there are entire networks dedicated to very specific interests: travel, cooking, military, numerous 24 hour news etc. But the internet is going to revolutionize how we watch TV once again as we move to an "On Demand" system, when we can watch anything we want, wherever we want.
If you are interested in learning how to begin receiving programming on your computer through the internet, there are several options, both free and paid.
Hulu.com: Is on the forefront of Internet television. It offers a wide selection of network and cable programming for free. The only exception is that shows are only available to watch the day after they air on network TV, and they are only available for a limited time.
Hulu Plus: Is a subscription based upgrade to the hulu.com model (currently 7.99/mo) which offers not only current episodes of popular shows, but every episode from every season of popular shows. In addition, all programming is available in HD. For such a small price, it certainly puts the pressure on cable companies!
Free Over The Air Broadcast: Just like in the 50s and 60s, you are free to access all of the major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CW, and PBS) by using an antenna hooked up to a special USB adaptor to your computer. The installation process is simple with products like the El Gato EyeTV Hybrid for Mac, and the Hauppauge WinTV HVR USB tuners for PC.
However, if you want access to all of your favorite channels, live, without having to pay any subscriptions or install any hardware, then you are looking for an Internet based live streaming website like SatellliteDirect.tv. Instead of paying monthly for Hulu Plus and only get a few of your favorite shows after they air, or pay monthly for 150 channels of cable, you can pay a one-time fee and get direct access to 3500 channels of premium programming without ever installing a piece of hardware. Anywhere you have internet, you have all the TV you could ever watch.
Times have certainly changed. No longer is our TV viewing restricted to only a few select programs, or to certain times of the day. The future of television is a world where the cable or satellite box is replaced with a modem and Internet access.