Who’s really driving all these TV changes, is it manufacturer’s hype or our viewing demands?
Actually, it’s mostly us, what we want to watch and how has caused so many twists and turns in TV technology over the last ten years that we can hardly recognize our own TV screen anymore.
It’s pretty amazing to think that those old heavy square Tube TVs that have been in existence since TVs became commercially available only stopped manufacturing in 2007.
Since then changes in TV capacity, capability and usability have been massive and complex. From Plasma to LCD, to 3D technology, Online viewing and Smart TV, the TV in your lounge room might be outdated faster than you can purchase a new one.
With the internet setting new standards for what we watch and when, TV manufacturers are struggling to keep up with consumer desires and trends. Manufactures are more than happy to comply, it means new models are on the shelves pretty much yearly, broadcast agencies however are not so keen to bend to consumer ways, not just because it isn’t profitable, it’s also really hard to do. This opens up scores of room for other parties to take over, and they are.
Internet viewing, YouTube broadcasting, online downloads and streaming (not all of which is legal) has been a lengthy and costly battle for entertainment companies trying to pin down copyrights and get legal action against private parties. Regular broadcast agents simply can’t handle the view on demand consumers are looking for. As well as this lack of standardization leads to compatibility issues and possible bandwidth issues as broadcasting continues to move forward.
The other massive change with internet technology is viewer interaction. Social media allows us to join fellow fans, have real time discussions, analysis and hate sessions while we watch, send feedback to commentators, vote for the VIP of the game and have contestants voted in or out of shows. This not only provides a social culture around TV viewing, but also real time feedback that the show itself can see and take on board if desired.
That all means that viewers want more control. It used to be that an audience was restricted to watching what was programmed in a very ridged and somewhat politically driven programming schedule, pure hell for the four-year-old who wanted to watch Humphrey B. Bear at any other time outside the 11:30am screening on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Now we determine the programming with direct TV, downloads, live steaming and agencies like Netflix.
Instead of waiting each week for the next season episode of our favorite series, we can watch the entire season run (or two) in a binge weekend. How can we resist when it’s there and ready for us, and we NEED to know what happens even though we can hardly keep our eyes open (that’s what caffeinated drinks are for!).
Direct streaming and watch on demand also cancels out ads, something viewers have loathed from the beginning but networks adore because it’s their revenue. Now instead of surfing channels with the remote you can simply program your own schedule and pause when you need a bathroom or snack break.
We are also no longer restricted to the box in the lounge room. You can also have a TV in every room in the home, including smart little fold down versions for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry. TVs are fully adept to living outside to provide that extra buzz of entertainment under the stars, and if having multiple TVs at home is not enough our TV viewing is completely portable with TVs available on every device imaginable from phones to tables, laptops and desktops to car headrests.
TV is also provided for us in pubs, beer gardens and waiting rooms. These devices not only give us access to the TV shows themselves, but also behind the scenes, interviews, reviews and spoilers.
Missed that goal? Just rewind it and watch it again, in slow motion if you like, straight from your TV. If we are not at home when a particular show is on, no problems, just set your TV box to record and it will save and store your favorite shows so that you can watch them when you have time. This is especially handy if you are working, on a date or on vacation.
We are also able to access more of the world at once. While American content shows used to dominate early TV broadcasts because of lower costs, they now dominate due to demand. From the very beginning Hollywood has had the upper edge on studio technology, budgets and talent, and while everyone else is catching up and creating their own masterpieces, LA is still the place to go if you are serious about TV as a career. Alongside Hollywood blockbusters though is an incredible range of Australian talent, global sports and overseas news.
Sport in particular is a massive television marketplace with sporting seasons costing networks into the billions. For example the English Premier league is worth approximately GBP 1.3 billion per year (AUD 2.3 Billion), which is set to increase when the broadcast contract expires in 2020. On top of the actual games, talkback shows are star studded and available pretty much 24/7.
Finally TV is being driven by what matters most, the people watching it. Keep up the good work everyone.