Changing how I Watch TV

Deb was away for eight days recently and during that time I caught up on a lot of video viewing. In looking back, though, I discovered I had slipped into the 21st century and had not watched a single live broadcast. Instead, I saw a number of movies streamed via Netflix, watched several movies and television shows on DVD and saw several video files sent by a pal which I accessed via Dropbox.

As it is, we’ve virtually stopped watching anything live, living off the DVR and On Demand, picking and choosing what we want when we want it. I think we totally abandoned live TV about a month after we got a DVR four-five years back.

Increasingly, cutting the cord is the trend and more and more people of varying ages are doing fine without a cable connection of any kind. Now, I won’t say we’re giving up on cable entirely since not every show we enjoy (such as The Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest) is not available for streaming anywhere legal. Similarly, we’re not dropping our Netflix disc option since far too few of the movies we want to see are available for streaming.

But we’re all moving in this general direction. The BBC is making Doctor Who available in America almost the same time it airs in the UK while Netflix is dropping series after series in one lump for those who prefer binge watching (one habit we have yet to sample).

The prime time schedule is there for now, but as the oldest generation fades away, so too will this model and the networks are scrambling to find a model that works for today’s audiences. This fall USA will try live streaming some of their shows as they are broadcast for users who want to watch wherever they are on whatever device they want. Me, I still like to actually see what I watch so won’t be using my phone for viewing and resort to the tablet only where there is no other choice. There’s a reason I have a 52” screen on the wall.

Live tweeting during broadcasts is encouraged with the networks offering up subject specific hash tags, even make the cast available now and then for that instant feedback. Similar second screen added content is increasingly part of a production’s obligations to the network. The goal is to keep us glued to the series, minimizing time shifting so we don’t miss out on whatever they think is cool. The problem is these add-ons also distract from the story itself. Glance at the twitter feed and you miss a joke. Shop for the jewelry you just noticed and you miss a stunning performance on a drama. From what I have been told, by not engaging in this way, we’re not missing a whole lot. There have been no killer apps that I have heard about so either the idea is weak or no one has found the right mix.

The problem now is for consumers to watch the battle over rights. We can only see some things via Netflix, some via Hulu. Some studios are exclusive with one premium channel while others have their own. This too will need sorting out so our menu of options becomes clearer, along with the price we are being asked to pay for our favorite shows, movies, and personnel.

For now, we’re catching up on the tail end of traditional season, trying to fit in the movies we’ve missed in the theater and getting to try some of the shows we’ve heard about and have DVDs stockpiled. All that’s missing is the leisure time for such indulgences.

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