Monday, March 30, 2009

TV is Dead, Long Live the New TV

Maybe you hadn't noticed, but gee there's a lot of television programming on the interweb now. Between YouTube and Hulu I never watch conventional television anymore. When our area recently converted to digital TV, we lost our ABC feed completely. Normally this would not have even registered, but since we'd invited friends over for watching the Oscars, it was crucial. We switched back to analogue just for the evening. We used to have Direct TV but ditched it about a year ago when it was evident that we had better things to do. Why pay $75/month for nothing? So as a backup we got the digital converter box. We've barely used it.

Harry Shearer's Le Show this week talked about the DTV conversion and it got me thinking about how my own viewing habits have changed completely in just 2 years. Before, I watched more DVD's or on-demand cable than TV. When I moved, I ditched cable in the process and watched even less television. I listened to the presidential debates on NPR or watched live on CNN on my laptop. I watched the Inaugural in a room full of strangers at a event in my neighborhood via video projection. The last time we had the TV on at home was for the Oscars.

Now when I hear about shows from my friends, I figure I can catch them online or on DVD from Netflix when I want to see them. The idea of rushing home to see a TV show, or even carving regular time into my life for watching TV seems crazy to me now, though we've all done it in the past. Remember "movies of the week"? Television was an "event". I supposed I've saved money by not having a Tivo device. Why would I need one now anyway when the Internet IS my Tivo?

I'm making a list of things I want to see on my new TV: old shows I never saw or missed somehow (thirtysomething, 21 Jump Street) shows I've lost touch with but want to catch up to (The Tudors). I like that I can choose to see what I want, when I want. And frankly I'd like to be able to search for programming in a Google-like search engine, maybe coupled with IMDB, so I can find all the 21 Jump Street episodes I never saw Johnny Depp in. Or any number of those BBC costumers of classic literature with great character actors in them who are big stars now (Hugh Laurie). I know they're out there somewhere.

In conversation with a friend the other day we were discussing marketing and television. It suddenly dawned on me that there now exists an infinite number of "channels" available for viewing - that anyone with a webcam and Itunes can become a TV programmer. Perhaps there will be websites like which will allow me to veejay my own channel lineup. Efforts to market our creative content will have to reach out to those channels with the most viewers or those who have the viewers that will best spark to our product. Conventional TV is dead. We are the new TV.

Thanks to Kevin Steele's Flickr photostream for the photograph of the TV and recycling bins.

At the intersection of art and new media, a place where the convergence emerges.