Video on the web has not seen it’s peak yet. And I am not talking about more people watching youtube, but about having all major TV networks streaming their line up in real time in an efficient manner. For TV on the web to take over the traditional cable/sat/aerial, multicasting is needed.
IP multicast allows to share the bandwidth needed to stream video on the web between “nodes”. Right now, if 1 million people request a specific video on a server somewhere, that video will be served 1 million times from that server. This is very expensive bandwidth-wise, and obviously more clever solutions are needed. Multicast allows to share the load with ISPs. The ISP will receive the stream and then share it in real time to the customers who request it, instead of hitting the main server over and over again. It is like a cache, but a cache that updates all the time.
We are years away before multicasting becomes common. I’d say anywhere between 5 and 8 years. In fact, 2015 sounds like a good year… The problem is that it requires the ISPs to support multicasting. I don’t think Comcast does (or that it wants to support it). Operating systems will need to be updated too, Vista has support for it, Leopard doesn’t. And the most difficult change of all: it requires new features on people’s routers/firewalls. Only few router models support “IGMP” right now, and the ones that do, are usually ridden with problems. If you are in the UK and you have the right router/ISP, then you can try BBC’s multicasting.
But eventually, the situation will straighten out. And then video on the web will be really cheap, which means that most will jump on streaming HD video right off the bat. And then it will flourish for good and cable-TV companies will go the way of the dodo.