By Corey Conley
I was fortunate enough this Christmas to receive a Roku XD. Roughly the size of a deck of cards, it’s just one of a variety of ways to stream Internet content to your computer. I can pipe in Pandora’s Internet radio, then hop over to Netflix and watch the next episode of Lost. I can also grab Hulu Plus and a variety of other free and paid video and music sources. If I can’t find anything interesting on Netflix, I can load a flash drive with video files from my computer and plug it into my Blu-Ray player, which, by the way, can also stream content from Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu. Should a freak power surge fry all that, I can still stream Netflix with my Nintendo Wii.
With all of these options (and not to mention DVR’s and YouTube), the days when TV shows made you wait for them to broadcast seem quaint. I can imagine my grandchildren’s incredulous questions after I tell them how if I wanted to see a show, I had to be there with the TV on at 7:00 sharp, or miss part of it. “But grandpa,” they’ll gasp, “surely you could rewind and watch it later, right?” I will shake my head slowly, solemnly.
Of course, plenty of people still plan their lives around their favorite shows – for most it’s the only guaranteed-spoiler free way to view a show (as my Brother-in-law found out last night, after he inadvertently learned the twist ending for the fourth season finale of Dexter), but I find myself part of the growing pool of people who prefer to watch entertainment on their own time and at their own pace.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve eagerly rushed home and gone straight to the television, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. As media companies and political campaigns are revving up for next year, they’re finding a stunning drop in “live” (meaning as it is broadcast) television viewing among people 18-44.
As a member of that cohort, I’m happy to say good riddance to the anachronism of scheduled TV viewing. The number of people expecting quality content on their timetable will only grow, and I foresee the audience for broadcast will shrink as generations pass. Just like the music industry a decade ago, the world of video content will have to adapt to this reality. Quality shows will arise overnight by mass consensus, instead of being handpicked by a broadcast CEO. More options, more competition, but better shows await the eyeballs of the future.
I can’t wait… but for now, it’s just me, the Roku, and Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica.
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