Cord cutting, the act of dropping your cable provider, as at an all-time high in 2017. HD digital antennas, service such as Netflix and Hulu, and smart TVs are making people wonder what life with cable was even like. We’re now to a point where the question is no longer “Are you streaming?” but instead “How are you streaming?” And some of those answers make even Netflix look like dated technology.
If binge watching “House of Cards” isn’t filling your entertainment appetite, here are six trends in streaming guaranteed to captivate.
4K resolution isn’t new, but it is the new standard. Not only are affordable TVs and monitors now in 4K, but the content is catching up as well. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even YouTube all support both 4K and High Dynamic Range, a video tech supporting a wide gamut of beautiful colors. And on top of that, smartphones, GoPros and drones all film in 4K, leaving 1080p in the dust.
On one end, you can watch content in stunning 4K, and it’s certainly an immersive experience. But on the other, you can go all in with immersion and now stream live content using virtual reality devices like the HTC Vive and Playstation VR. Even pro sports are getting in on the next frontier. NBA League Pass, pro basketball’s season subscription service, now has a VR option to watch games in a completely new way.
Mobile is a huge part of streaming in 2017 and the only factor limited long streams on the go is data caps … until now. Thanks to the likes of T-Mobile, who brought the trend back to life, all four major carriers now offer unlimited data plans. This makes the potential for what we can watch outside of Wi-Fi, well, unlimited.
Once upon a time, not long ago, Flash was the standard for streaming video online and the experience was not pleasant. It was buggy, crashed often and drained lots of battery power from mobile devices. Early iPhones didn’t even support it, which was the original spark in the iPhone vs. Android war. But these formats have come a long way and what we have now is buttery smooth in comparison. HTML5 was almost completely supplanted Flash as the standard in-browser streaming format and H.265 is a more efficient codec to compress high-quality videos, such as VR or 4K, without sacrificing picture.
Social Media Goes Live
It’s not “Lord of the Rings,” but social media content is becoming a big player in what we stream on our smartphones. Periscope started it all just a few years ago but now Instagram and Facebook Live are here with live video and even YouTube has made live content a major part of its platform. So what can you watch on these live streams? Just about anything from celebrity rants to live sporting events (Thursday Night Football made a deal with Twitter last season).
“Cable,” But Not
This last one is less progress and mostly a lateral move. Instead of paying a cable company for a package of 100 channels when you only want 10, you can now do the same through streaming services like SlingTV. Yes, it does avoid installation fees and cable box rentals, but it’s essentially the same deal — subsidizing the good channels by paying for the bad ones.
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of TheDigitalLifestyle.com tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.