I went through six years of living without cable connection. This wasn’t as hard as some might think it would be because growing up my family didn’t get basic cable until I got to Junior High. When I say I grew up on public access television, its no lie, thats all we picked up out in the boonies of Los Angeles county. However, when I got to college, I did a crap load of catching up.
By the time I had graduated my viewing habits had significantly altered again. What little cable television I watched, was consumed through DVR. The majority of my consumption of content was through broadcaster websites, like Smallville on CW.com, or through the still developing Hulu.com. For movies I would score free special advance screening tickets through a Film Festival organization I was affiliated with. I also was acquiring content through file sharing and online streaming sties.
All of these consumption habits had the following things in common- I viewed content based on my schedule and ease; and, I could opt-out of consumer advertising; another benefit, but not necessarily a primary motivator, was the fact that I could watch multiple shows, or in some cases seasons without having to wait for it to re-run or come out on DVD.
I believe the upside to all of this is instant access, ease of access and choice in not only how the consumer is access content but what aspect of content is being consumed. Does this mean its the death of television?
Not sure what it means in the long run for television. But for consumers its not good news. For instance as more people shift to recorded devices like DVR’s- the more product placement advertisements will seep into shows. We wont get content where Rick stops in the middle of killing a zombie to tell us about the amazing Sure women’s underarm deodorant Laurie is wearing, but things will change as the networks will need to fund their bottom lines.
News- something that drastically changed for me was consumption of news. I do not watch local news at all. I check my weather through apps on my phone, I read local news through headlines on my google.news.com page and if I really want to get information about a particular local news incident I look at independent online news journals like OCWeekly . My concern is state, national and international news. Unfortunately, for state and national news none of the news outlets are worth watching, fortunately this is where I turn to online news media to read articles on news stories or blogs likes Slate, Daily Kos, HuffPo, The Atlantic, The New Republic. I also watch PBS news programming or I turn on the local NPR affiliated news station while driving or doing work- online, podcast. For in-depth reporting I turn to programs like CBS’s 60 Minutes or NBC’s Rock Center- online.
International news is a tricker issue. After the Arab Spring and the lack of coverage by CNN as it got under way, but going back earlier to Wolf Blitzers propaganda whoring, 2009 Iranian Green Revolutions downplaying and use of “Iranian State approved images and video”- I washed my hands of CNN. Instead I turned to (free) live streaming of Al Jazeera English and BBC News. I don’t watch any American news broadcasting stations, except for once in a while, while traveling I will check out CNN’s Headline News. Aside from that I read my international news in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, The Economist and a handful of others.
Being back with my parents we recently upgraded our AT&T cable offering to get AMC and ESPN. Looking at the costs I would say after a few months it will be time to ditch cable all together and find alternative ways of watching even those shows and sporting events we want to watch.
Even more interesting habit wise is our Apple TV allows us to shoot up from our iPhones and laptops videos and other content directly onto our TV screen- from facebook to Skyping with relatives in Pakistan- the TV is less about watching catble television and more about social media content. Then there is Netflix and Redbox as well as the fact that for $79 bucks you get Amazon Prime membership that gives me access to a whole lot of content online and I can selectively buy shows I get hooked on after catching on “x” number of seasons/episodes.
I think we are beyond the fear aspect- oh no! I am going to miss something live on tv!- that was clearly indicative as Occupy Wall Street broadcasted live feeds of the events on the ground as the developed while new channels covered the winter fashion accessories. Live streams of debates or the DNC/RNC or of other events at local mosques make alternative custom tailored content consumption possible. Why the heck should I pay to watch 25 channels of Spanish language programming, or Trinity Broadcasting Network, or Oxygen!?!
Do I care to watch a high speed chase, or ridiculous statements by celebrities and athletes or get no updates, on updates about breaking news as its happening- no. I can just read about it later on my cell (after it trends on twitter), laptop (once influencers on facebook post it as links showing on my feed) or hear about it on the radio (as I am driving around stuck in endless traffic)? Its just not the price, its the “culture” that goes with it. Endless hype about nothing. Unplug that consumerist bull shit and find an alternative, we will survive.