The Death of Television

Have new technologies sounded the death of television? Or is there still a place for traditional television in today’s society? This widely debated topic seems to be popping up frequently since the development of various internet based technologies for viewing television, such as Apple TV, as well as the readily available mass of television content free for illegal downloading via the internet.

By 2015, some 463 million TV sets will be capable of accessing video via the internet, 36% of those in the EU. (Christopher Schouten, Irdeto) Why wait to watch a show at a set time each week, when you could watch the entire series in a matter of days.

This point is stressed by Jinna Tay and Graeme Turner in their article ‘What is television? Comparing media systems in the post-broadcast era’, arguing the Internet will shape the future of television.

“Internet develops a new form of access, new modes of interaction, and new media products for a youthful, innovation-seeking audience”

They argue that free-to-air television and its limited, inflexible schedule simply can’t compete with the flexibility of the internet.

I’m a repeat offender of downloading television shows from the internet. Having never had Foxtel, and with regular TV offering a very limited array of shows, I constantly find myself trawling the internet for shows, many of which haven’t even aired in Australia yet.

Time constraints are certainly a factor for why the death of TV is imminent. Arriving home late from work many nights of the week means I miss much of what’s on TV, but thanks to my laptop I can download these at my own convenience. To me waiting for a series to come out on DVD before watching it requires to much self-restraint, especially if it’s a popular show that I know everyone will be watching and talking about.

This doesn’t mean traditional television doesn’t have its merits. Some analysts suggest there is still a place for traditional television in our lives.

“There is still a groundswell of people that come home and turn on the TV to watch regular programmes at a regular time. A lot of people still build their home life around that sort of thing,” says Paul O’Donovan, of technology research specialists Gartner.

My mum is definitely one of these people. Technology itself tends to overwhelm her, and being able to sit down and watch a program at the same time each week is much less stressful and part of her weekly routine.

Some aspects of linear TV will remain unthreatened by new technologies. Namely the viewing of live content, such as sporting events.

“We’ll all still watch the World Cup final at the same time.”

– Suranga Chandratillake, founder of blinkx video search engine and aggregator

The current London Olympic Games prove this point. I haven’t watched this much TV in weeks, tuning in and out of swimming, basketball, gymnastics, and really, just about whatever is on, much of which is cast live from London.

The growing popularity of reality shows may also ensure the survival of television. People prefer to watch the shows as they are happening. And thanks to my friends running commentaries via social media it would be impossible for me to watch these shows at a later date, without knowing who had been voted out.

Another aspect of traditional television that has the potential to be threatened with the emergence of new technologies is the news. With news websites and free internet news plentiful television networks are forced to compete. Channel Ten’s The Project, has recognized people are relying on the internet and social media for their news and has tapped into this, targeting a predominantly younger audience. Offering comedic conversation between the panel, and a range of interesting interviews and stories they set themselves apart from the traditional news format.

ABCS i-view as well as Nines Nine MSN are also examples of the changing ways of networks, with convergence seemingly the way forward in the post broad-cast era. Once upon a time watching the nightly news was a ritual, but with so many different ways to consume news today, television is no longer the forerunner it once was.

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