Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Who still watches Television?



So I know a couple of people who every night or so, sit down and watch Television. I find the very thought of it mind boggling. Why would anyone torture h[im/er]self so?

Television is all about locking yourself into someone else's timetable.
  • Each show comes on when your network decides it comes on.
  • You can't go back in case you missed something.
  • You can't rewatch a particular enjoyable scene.
  • You can't pause.
  • You can't stop it and continue it later.
  • You can't skip an annoying scene.
I find the idea of such a lack of control on the viewer's part excruciatingly painful.

People miss appointments or go to bed late because they just had to know what happens. Parents have to fight with their kids to get them to do homework, which would make them miss their favorite show.

People don't take proper care of themselves by not going to use the facilities when they need to, or getting a drink, or answering the phone. The list of problems goes on and on.

This problem was always apparent, and many people bought video cassette recorders, or other newer devices to get the same job done. But there were those that didn't, and instead preferred to torture themselves.

Okay, at first the technology may have been annoying (video cassettes), then it was too expensive. It's always another annoying peripheral in your house for the most part just taking up space. But why is this still going on today?

If you read this site often, it's quite likely you own your own computer at home and have a high speed internet connection. There's also a good chance if you bought a computer or new hard drive in the past few years, that you have gigabytes of free space that you have no idea what to do with.

If you own what I described above, why would you want to torture yourself so? Many stations are now putting their shows on their website which you can watch in mid-quality annoying flash. But ignoring that, nowadays, there are tons of people who record the show and then share that recording via Bit Torrent or file sharing websites.

Unlike traditional home recording techniques, quite often you don't even have to program your device when to record for you anymore - when using a computer. Many "Online Television" sites provide RSS feeds that you can subscribe to which would automatically download your favorite shows as each episode comes out. You don't have to screw up setting to record at 3:59, and finding out your time was three minutes behind the network, and you missed the beginning. Or instead of setting the end time to 5:01, you screwed up and selected 4:01, and recorded a grand total of two minutes of your hour long show.

These sites generally have the shows up a couple of minutes after they air in the earliest timezone showing them, and the files are of good quality, yet small enough to be downloaded in just a couple of minutes. If you happen to live in a later timezone, many times you can be finished watching a show before it even airs where you live.

So who exactly is still torturing themselves? And why?

Before you question, what would happen if everyone only started watching "Online Television", who exactly would be doing the recordings? We have to ask ourselves why aren't the companies producing these shows using the new medium available to distribute them? If they had an RSS feed with all the new shows set up to be downloaded via Bit Torrent on them (advertisements included), I'm sure many people would subscribe to them. They could even charge a few bucks a year to gain access to a private torrent, cutting out the middlemen (networks, cable companies) they use.

7 comments:

David said...

Good points in this rant on television. I see it much like the physical media wars we see withdeveloping technology (VHS v BETA, BlueRay v HD)

In this case Internet v Television is taking alot longer to settle, but we all know who will come out on top. It's interesting to see Entertainment hybrids showing up online (ONN, CollegeHumor, Hulu)

Will the television based networks and studios be able to survive the transition?

Dan said...

This is a good point, especially with the fact that the U.S. ceased through-the-air television transmission and now requires everyone to pay for cable or satellite if they want TV. There are, however, a few things that TV provides that th internet doesn't, such as the news shows, or watching sports in realtime (my dad has cable and TWO satellites just so he can get all the football games).

I remember though, in the days before everybody started using encryption, when very very few people had satellite dishes, our fist satellite dish had access to all of the transmission satellites in orbit, and if you knew what channel they would be using for it, you could watch the feeds for upcoming episodes as they were sent out to the local stations, sometimes 3 or 4 days before they actually showed. Now THAT was a good use for television, though instead of commercials during the break, they just had black which was annoying.

Anyway, don't you still have arguments with the coderlings about TV? I would imagine that you tell them to do their homework, but they want to watch the new episode of "popular show for young people" as soon as it's finished downloading rather than waiting, and do a half-assed job on their homework anyway...

Dan said...

So apparently i never got the whole story. They didn't cease through-the-air transmission, they simply cut VHF and UHF and moved TV transmissions to a different frequency and require a converter box or a newer television with a digital receiver to pick it up. Still, that requires me to pay for a TV that has it or a converter box...

Bart said...

Love this Blog Keep up the Great Work!

brett said...

I feel your pain Dan. I still haven't upgraded my perfectly watchable black and white TV set. I resisted when the money-grubbing government tried to force me to switch to color.

as2100 said...

A DVR such as TiVo will solve all six points you mention regarding the timetable.

For the measly $6 extra I pay my local cable company each month I get an off-brand DVR with all the recording, pausing, seeking functionality you're wanting.

jessica said...

[quote]A DVR such as TiVo will solve all six points you mention regarding the timetable.

For the measly $6 extra I pay my local cable company each month I get an off-brand DVR with all the recording, pausing, seeking functionality you're wanting.[/quote]

Or, you can watch anything you want at any time on the internet for the cost of an internet bill only. I watch whatever I want for 45.00 a month, plus use the internet for many other things. I was paying well over 100.00 a month for basic cable and internet service 4 years ago. I am saving over $1,000 a year. In these hard times, any way you can save money helps.