Thursday July 28, 2022

The television will not be obsolete

The television will not be obsolete

Illustrative image.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of the media giant Netflix, predicts that the TV will be dead within the next 5 to 10 years. He reckons that, of late, people are choosing to switch off their television sets in favour of watching their favourite programmes online.

It’s true that people are watching more and more of their shows online. They’ve subscribed to Netflix, Apple and Android TV and have taken to watching movies online for free, if they can find it. They even watch streaming news programmes online.

But just to be clear, when Hastings says that the TV will be dead, I don’t think he was referring to the actual TV set. I think he was referring to what’s coming through the set. Ask yourself if you have ever said, ‘so many channels and there’s still nothing to watch’? I have.

The problem with television programmes and their schedules is that you have no control over what you’re watching. If you don’t like a programme or movie on any of the channels, you only have one of two choices. You either watch it or you turn off the TV. And that is exactly what we used to do up until the late 90s.

But the quality of the shows on television are not the only off-putting factor. The channels that are free to air do have a downside. Although they’re free to watch, a single movie or show is always riddled with long, loud infomercials that can turn a one and half hour movie into five or six hours long. In a typical movie on these channels, twenty minutes, sometimes thirty to sixty minutes long commercials run every ten minutes. It’s infuriating! But the channel will argue that if you don’t like seeing that many adverts then the only option is for them to charge you for the channel. Then the ads, which are their sole revenue source, will stop.

But people’s psychology is that, if they’ve enjoyed something for free, they don’t want to pay for it. Despite this, people will naturally express frustration at the commercials. But, if the same programmes or movies are repeated, sometimes for days in a row, as well as the lengthy commercial at 10 minute intervals, the broadcasters might have a problem on their hands. They must not think they have a captive audience just because their channel is free. I’m sure you already know that there are plenty of places online where you can watch programmes that are to your liking and whenever you are ready to watch them.

The idea that you either like or lump it is no longer the case. Some people, therefore, don’t bother complaining and choose not to watch TV at all or sometimes a particular channel. There are many who do not even own a TV set.

They rely solely on their laptop or smartphones for entertainment. Rather than get irritated with a free to air channel’s commercial antics, they’d much rather pay a subscription fee for an online streaming service that gives them what they want and when they want it.

Or they go to YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites At least then they can control what to watch and when to watch it. They can also control how often they want to watch a movie and are not at the whims of the free to air channel that chooses the worst movie and then decides repeats it for days in a row with loud, lengthy, incessant commercials in between that are, sometimes in another language. Just the other day I was watching ‘Where The Scary Things Are’ on just such a free to air channel’ The run-time for the movie is about one and a half hours.

It began at 6pm and by 10.45pm the movie was not even halfway through because every 5 minute there was an hour long commercial, in another language. I never finished watching the movie and turned off the TV. It was just too frustrating waiting for the movie to resume playing. I also couldn’t remember where the movie left off or what it was called!

But in spite of all this, the TV is still not dead nor do I believe it ever will be. The TV set serves more than one purpose. Laptops and smartphones have small screens so watching movies is not as much fun as it would be on a larger screen. Most people spend thousands on big screen TVs with HD options just so they can hook their external devices to it. It can be connect to a DVD player, a laptop and even a computer. With all these applications, why on earth would the TV disappear?

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