How we watch TV
The past ten years have seen an amazing transformation in the media and entertainment world. The internet has turned everything on its head. Newspapers are losing money, closing down and laying off writers and other production staff, book sales are down worldwide, the music industry still hasn’t adjusted to the new world order and now the great and powerful television and movie industries are beginning to feel the not so nascent and growing power of the wired world.
This shaking up of the world information, communication and entertainment industry has been forecast for a decade and though there are been a few false starts it looks like the shakeup is finally here. Fewer and fewer people are watching the great and powerful networks. The same thing that happened to the music industry, through the free download debacle of Napster and other peer to peer music trading sites is now happening to video, television and the movies. The first inroads were made through Utube, but now the increased bandwidth, the proliferation of movie and TV free download sites is in full swing. And frankly, I have no idea how this latest play will end. When I consider the pap that passes for entertainment that is available to me on the TV dial, or at the latest Hollywood offerings, I see why this is all happening. Why wade through endless commercials, edits in content to fit the production into the TV time slot or just the insipid, low brow shows, I am not surprised that its primarily the blue rinse set and the remote controlling couch bound who make up the dwindling TV audience. And the bad news for the networks is that like big tobacco, the quest for a new younger user is coming up goose eggs.
I tasted for the first time last week what is available out there on demand, sans commercials, watching what I wanted, when I wanted from an offering that boggles the mind. Fifty years of TV production from all genres available at a click of a mouse. The cost zero, the convenience infinity.
So far I have only logged into one web site, though I have found many others that offer the same service at the same price. Is it legal? I can’t imagine that it is, though the disclaimers claim so.
How long will these sites stay up and running before the authorities step in? Hard to say. Look what happened to the music industry. Napster was the cutting edge, the first wave of peer to peer trading and downloading and it revolutionized how we listen to music and where we get our music. In the end Napster was shut down, but dozens of clones still exist and do pretty much the same thing. The fallout was that many retailers felt the pinch and some even went out of business. Now it is the turn of broadcasters and purveyors of video. We are used to free programming and like the inexorable flow of water down a hill peer to peer free downloads, will erode the networks and broadcasters. Where this will all go and what it means to copyright, programming and how entertain ourselves is the new $64-billion question.
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