Television is undergoing a revolution of sorts, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the sitcom and sports industries. Gone are the days when viewers would wait eagerly by the television, pining for the next installment of their favorite show or trying to adjust rabbit ears to catch the local football game. TV has moved squarely into the realm of streaming services, where viewers engage with content across multiple platforms and devices.

The future of TV has become how to access the content you want, not the content your streaming service is willing to give you. Kaz Weida at CableTV.com writes, “The viewing habits of millennials have certainly reinforced the old adage that ‘content is king.’ Momentum towards cord cutting shows the cable industry that, moving forward, consumers will value convenience and choice.”  

As the popularity of streaming services rises, the technology that supports those services will become vitally important. That means an increase in the use of not only platforms and apps like Netflix and Hulu, but also in tools such as VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) that support and secure access to the content viewers prefer. TV content is becoming increasingly global, and the services, platforms, and technology that give viewers more choices at a reasonable cost will seize the day.

VPNs and Streaming Services

VPNs have become an increasingly popular way to secure communications like VoIP and mask IP addresses online, as well as engage with content via streaming services. Roughly 25% of internet users have used VPNs in the last thirty days, and half of those users have done so to view restricted content that includes both movies and regional sporting events.

Eric Griffith at PCMag.com explains, “Exactly half of the users are using VPNs for the movies: 50 percent use a VPN to access ‘restricted entertainment content.’ That typically means they’re pretending they’re in another country so they can see the geo-locked media on a streaming service.”

Instead of accepting that certain content isn’t available in their region, streaming service subscribers increasingly use VPNs to mask their IP addresses and take advantage of a wider variety of entertainment. While VPNs used to be for the tech crowd, VPN services have made the software easy to install and access across multiple devices.

A VPN’s ability to unlock access to regionally restricted entertainment and sports content isn’t its only advantage. By encrypting your internet traffic, a VPN can make accessing streaming services more secure, ensuring privacy on mobile devices or public Wi-Fi and reducing your susceptibility to hacking and data breaches. VPNs can also help users avoid becoming victims of throttling by their internet service providers (ISPs) and potentially increase streaming speeds. As net neutrality‘s repeal continues, a VPN may also be helpful in a deregulated internet to tunnel past blockades from your ISP and deliver the content you choose rather than the content your ISP chooses for you.

VPNs and the Future of TV

Moving forward, the future of TV will be all about viewer choice and accessibility, with an emphasis on how to deliver content securely across multiple platforms and devices. Right now, the demographics of those using VPNs skew toward young, male viewers on mobile devices, but experts believe this is only the beginning of what the marriage of TV and streaming services has in store.

Streaming services continue to demand faster internet speeds for higher video quality, and VPNs are adapting to better answer these consumer demands. Chris Paradysz, CEO and co-founder of PM Digital, points out how users focus on the media and expect the tech to keep up: “We have to remember to separate the technology from the content; the physicality of the delivery mechanism is irrelevant. Viewers aren’t approaching television from this standpoint — they just want to make use of the most accessible means of consuming the content they crave.”

As an increasingly tech-savvy populace comes of age, they’ll bring more sophisticated tools like VPNs into the mainstream, and services that have up until now tried to block VPN access may adjust their approach accordingly.  If the last few years have proven anything, it’s that the future of VPN relies on streaming access. The future is about how you can access content through an environment of multiple platforms and screens. Coupled with streaming services, VPNs are uniquely suited to provide the technology to secure a variety of content and choices for the next generation of TV viewers.

Michael is CEO at VPN.com. His company helps millions of consumers and businesses find the best VPN for their needs and budget. We have reviewed over 900 different VPN providers, like PureVPN, so readers like you can be informed when it comes to which VPN is ideal. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn or check out my Forbes column for the latest on cybersecurity, privacy and VPNs.

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