Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's the Point of Live TV?

Ok, I was going to start a long discussion on social networks, but I want to write all the pieces first, and I got distracted, ok sucked into Felicia Day's TV of the future discussion on Google+.  <-- I think that link is viewable for anyone even if you don't have a Google+ account yet, and if you don't, why not?  Anyway, before you go lose a few hours of your time, read the rest of this!

I've never paid for TV, I currently only get PBS over the airwaves.  I wish we got networks sometimes, becuase there are occassionally shows on the networks that I enjoy and I'd watch them that way if I had the option, but I wouldn't set my life around it.  I did and do watch those same shows on Hulu, or when they had their TV broadcast thing, back in the Pushing Daisies days (even though that software was riddled with spy crap).  Shows I enjoy get canceled every year.  For a while my online friends asked me not to watch certain shows just so they wouldn't get canceled! (it was mostly a joke).  My other coast online friends and I can't discuss shows after they air, because I have to wait until they are on the web AND the coasts still have a 2 hour time delay between them on shows.

All of this leads to a very antiquated TV situation.  There are so many shows, and so many other forms of entertainment, it's hardly like its central to our culture.  Sure I get burned a bit by not having a clue what the new reality show is.  I miss references to some HBO show when someone quotes it on Facebook.  Odds are though, I wouldn't watch them even if I could, they don't sound like something I'd actually enjoy.  The friends who enjoy the shows I do, we still get to chat, in a somewhat delayed manner, and we quote out of old seasons to avoid spoilers.  Yet, it is so very easy to live without TV.  Ok, I don't get local news.  I wish I got local news, and it is my responsibility to get national news over the internets, which in all respects is probably better than having some talking head try to reguritate it all at me in 15 mins or less.  I mean when I read the news it takes longer than 15 mins!

TV is not necessary to communicate and socialize.  I suppose in some circles it helps, but it's not required anymore.  When I was a kid you had to watch certain shows.  I'm on the playground every day of the school year, it doesn't matter anymore.  Kids talk about stuff they watch, but if their friend doesn't watch it, or their friend doesn't have TV, it's no big deal!  They either just explain the show based game, or better, they create something from their own imaginings.  In fact kids talk more about movie characters than they do about TV ones, there are just too many and too little time to watch!

Maybe there is just too much TV, so people are moving away.  Or maybe like me, there isn't enough worth shelling out thousands of dollars a year for a few shows when I could spend that time with my kids and that money on other things, when I have that money.  Walmart posted profits for this quarter, even though their sales were down, siting that their core demographic was now poorer than ever - hmmm I wonder if those people had to give up TV when they gave up their extra frills at Walmart?  (More on that another time - maybe)

Anyway, back to the main argument, if you didn't go sneak a peak yet, execs at Fox and ABC are cutting back on their internet offerings (even though they have high web viewership on many of their shows).  The shows they are continuing to offer online will have such great delays that if you do watch on the air and you miss a show, you can no longer see it online before the next episode airs.  Too bad for you if you think stuff should be seen in order, or like shows with complicated continually evolving stories.  Even though the online systems have ads, and many have registration, in all ways, better advertising for you buck if you are in marketing, yet TV companies hate them.  It doesn't make sense logically, and it should scare anyone that likes TV.

Then again, maybe we just have too much content out there for the amount of interest in the products advertisers have and viewing the show.......  What do you think?  What should TV in the next decade look like?  How addicted are you to serial episodic passive media?


  1. I'll just re-use some comments I made on the other post :)


    I depend heavily on internet and streaming, but also DVD sets and rentals for TV. I don't pay for cable or regular tv. I primarily watch Hulu and Netflix, but I also rent TV shows from a local rental store and buy DVD sets off Amazon primarily. We view what we aren't spending on cable as partially discretionary entertainment money, so buying a few DVD's or renting something doesn't carry any guilt about budgets.

    The broadcast networks don't offer me anything I value. When I travel or visit friends I try to watch them, but the truth is, its not that I demand stuff NOW, its the convenience of streaming. the fact that I can still watch it LATER. Specifically after my kids are in bed and I won't be interrupted. Its the same mindset that makes DVR popular.

    We get our content from a mixed bag. PBS offers value, and they ask us to support them. I am ok with that. They give us some kids shows, cooking, travel, and science. Plus some nights you don't want to hunt down something to watch, you just want background noise. But like I mentioned, the cable networks lost my interest. I only watch maybe 6 shows, and most of those I can get online.

    Unfortunately I have to have subtitles to watch tv, which makes things tougher. I often opt to wait for DVD just for those. Streaming video is hit and miss for subtitles. On Hulu, Eureka has them, Castle has them, Sanctuary does not. Neither does The Guild.

    So for those shows I have to wait for DVD anyway. I could get them on the first network tv broadcast, but if a child distracts me or I am not home and I am not paying for premium DVR service, I will miss it anyway. Not worth $140 a month. That happens to be over $1600 a year, btw. If you spent all that on DVD sets you could buy 1 season of 42 different shows a year. Like I said, I only watch a few shows.

    I don't mind waiting on Hulu, but its sad when shows like the new V got pulled from online distribution. They want eyeballs, they want interest, they want people talking about the show and buying DVD's and swag. I might not even catch season 2 of V now, I lost interest.

    I believe there is a growing market which isn't being represented by polls and ratings. Their shows are being canceled prematurely and they are going elsewhere. The cable networks are paid by subscribers and companies wanting to market and advertise and in turn this supports the networks creating content. If those people go elsewhere, the advertiser's money will have to follow. Somehow.

    If the content people feel the need for a premium subscription service, that's fine with me, as long as it is economically feasible and appealing. TV producers are going to have to adapt from a push market to as pull market strategy though. Match our demands and you have guaranteed customers. Opting to hit the lowest common denominator with shows that appeal to "everyone", oh and sports, people will keep leaving.

    It's not that I demand it now, I am very patient. I agree though, that I want it accessible, subtitled, and available when I want to sit down and watch it and enjoy it. I have kids and I won't rearrange my schedule or their's to match some network's broadcast schedule.

    Anyone up for a good book?

  2. Like you, I don't pay for TV. We get ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and PBS, some stations on one of the TVs in the house, the other stations on the other TV. I VERY rarely schedule my time around a TV show that is coming on that I want to watch.
    However, this summer I have been enjoying watching some of my favorite shows on There is a limited offering, but I don't really care that I missed the last three seasons and can only see the most recent 5 shows, or whatever. I just want something to watch at my desk while I eat lunch.
    So, I was pretty angry when I saw the Warnings recently that you have to sign in with your cable provider ID in order to watch these shows. I don't have a cable provider, so no cable provider ID. And I'm not interested in getting one.
    I don't know what the future of TV will be, but I'm pretty sure my habits do not reflect the majority of TV viewers and so what I want will probably not matter very much.
    SC relative

  3. I think you'll find that you are more and more the majority of TV viewers. Especially if those commenting were any indicator. The trick is going to be getting the networks to realize that.


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