Apple: No downloads, just streaming?

I was interested to hear the appleTV announcement today. Apple has decided to remove "downloads" from their TV product, and instead only support "streaming".

So I opened my "Mad Men" folder, which has TV shows from iTunes, and they're mostly 1.5GB files.

1.5GB for a broadcast show is >5Mbps.

So I went to look at U.S. residential broadband, and found this great article:

U.S. residential broadband speeds average 50% of advertised speeds

Using this chart, and some more math, it appears that 75% of U.S. broadband connections are not capable of streaming a 5Mbps HD stream.

Without downloading first, of course.


  1. Buffering? UI tricks to make it appear like its 'preparing' for a few minutes first will fix all that up.

  2. No, unless you're prepared to wait 20 minutes to see a 45-minute show.

    The only other variable is quality, and the "HD only" part of the service doesn't allow for this.

  3. I'm not surprised. We can barely stream netflix at crappy quality.

    This is interesting though. We watch netflix (and rent things from amazon on roku) all the time, even though the quality is bad. The only times I buy things from apple are when I can't get them from either of those two, or when we were travelling in Italy, which hasn't heard of the internet yet, and we needed to download a bunch of stuff (which took HOURS to do, typically 3x the time to watch - and I don't think all of that was on our end).

    It the MP3 lesson, users will trade fidelity for convenience. Kind of surprised the maker of the iPod doesn't get that.

  4. Actually, they probably do have some smaller amount of local storage, but prefetching with limited local storage is tricky. I have enjoyed the Apple TV's ability to pre-download a season pass. But sometimes I'll get 10 episodes behind, and it's unclear how you don't fall back to streaming for cases like this. I suppose if you always watch shows "in order" and never watch 3 in a night, and never watch 2 episodes on cable and the rest on appleTV, it works!

    And yes, their SD shows look fine and work on most connections. I just think billing for HD and showing SD wouldn't make customers so happy.