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You Can't Watch Television On A Television Anymore!

Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - SEM

His and hers streaming television shows in a hotel room.

His and hers streaming television shows in a hotel room.

Remember when families had to all huddle around the RCA 630-TS television to watch evening programming? I certainly don’t but I’ve seen photos and heard stories. If you wanted to watch TV programming, you had to be in the living room. As technology advanced and became more affordable (and NECESSARY), owning multiple devices for several rooms in the house became commonplace. That’s the world in which I remember growing up.

However, these days it doesn’t matter if you have one, two, three, or absolutely zero television sets in your home; you can still consume all your favorite shows. I don’t own a tablet, because as studies show, single people own less tablets than married people. Call me a statistic! However, I do own a laptop, which moves as easily as an appendage with me around my apartment. When I am eyeballs deep into a show on Netflix or Hulu, I take that damn thing to the bathroom while I brush my teeth, the kitchen while I’m “cooking,” and it even provides an eerie night light as I pass out next to it in bed. True love right?

I have a beautiful Sony LCD 40″ baby sitting in my living room, fully equipped with cable, HD, and DVR, so why do I need to catch up on Parenthood in the bathroom? I have no idea; because we’re a culture of instant gratification? We can’t wait for anything; and I’m no exception. Watching television shows week to week is now painful thanks to streaming services that have made whole series available at the click of a mouse. I only have vague memories of rushing home from ballet class at 8pm to catch Dawson’s Creek.

One of my current shows du jour is Downton Abbey. I got hooked late last year (not an early adopter) and now need to catch up with the first two episodes from the latest, Season Three. I have actually been stalling to start the new season because

I am accustomed to devouring the content in bulk. Waiting seems tedious. I realized that I’m not the only one with this frustration when I saw this in Vulture today:

“iTunes will let anyone with a Downton Abbey season pass download the final three episodes on January 29. That is a full three weeks earlier than the PBS airing schedule; it is also the same day that the season-three DVDs are available for purchase. So, in summary, the fastest way to watch television will be on devices that are not your television. This makes sense.”

It does make sense that the fastest way to view shows is no longer on your television. Ouch. This truth made me wince harder than the reference to a “state of the art DVD player” I heard on Boy Meets World this morning while I was getting ready for work. Are televisions already becoming outdated?

My first thought was that since this show has already aired in the UK, it made sense for this particular series, even if it would dent PBS’s ratings a little. However this online exclusive seems to be more common than that. Cult favorite, Arrested Development is being resurrected for a fourth season that no one thought would ever be made. Catch is, it will only air on Netflix. Hmm…It used to be a punishment for movies and shows to go straight to Netflix without ever being given the chance to be aired in a theater or on a network. Now, it seems like a reward.

The demand is online, so only the most sought after programming will be given this privilege for now it seems.

One thing is clear, television eyeballs are decreasing by the day. Advertisers need to shift spend online if they want a fighting chance. They need to start thinking about reaching people in their living rooms, but also in the bedroom, bathroom, library, train, coffee shop, office….and any other place you can bring a laptop or tablet, which is everywhere. Good luck advertisers; catch me at 11pm, when I am under the covers.

About Heather Sundell

Heather has five years of experience in online and offline marketing. She graduated from The University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and absolutely no idea how USC football works. An aspiring cyclist, blogger, and cheese enthusiast, she is currently honing her Gen Y skills by doing all three at once.

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2 Responses to “You Can't Watch Television On A Television Anymore!”

  1. Aryn Kennedy says:

    I still watch TV on my TV, and usually the day, or at least the week, it airs. I’m a dinosaur because I hate having to nudge the laptop to bring it out of sleep mode (I know I could turn off sleep mode, but I’m lazy about that, too), and also because the laptop screen is nowhere near the quality of my 42″ LED TV.

    However, I do DVR everything and then watch it a little later because not being able to fast forward through commercials annoys me.

    My fervent wish is that all shows would be made available on demand the week they were scheduled to air. If they wanted to add 2-3 commercials I couldn’t fast forward through, that would be fine, just let me schedule the show for when I want to watch it.

  2. Jeff Shih says:

    As long as there are sports, I will need my big screen tv. Watching tiny people pass or shoot an even tinier ball on my laptop is not a fulfilling experience. The good thing for advertisers is that sports needs to be watched live (unless you can avoid everyone and all media who will spoil the score for you), so I can’t skip commercials.


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