December 21, 2013

What is the Future of Television?

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Do you have cable?  It’s a question that’s popping up more and more everyday as people are driven away from overpriced and bloated cable packages.  Rising costs, terrible customer service, hundreds of channels I flew past; these were all the reasons I decided to cut the cord and become cable free.

Even when I had cable I was on Netflix and Hulu much more often than I was watching an episode of Seinfeld for the 40th time (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Why waste time watching reruns of reruns when there were amazing shows out there I had missed out on (West Wing for one…I know, I know).  Sports were really the only thing keeping me tethered to the box but cable has even lost their stranglehold over that with options such as MLB.tvNBA.tv, and the ESPN app popping up.  The fact that Philadelphia sports are having a worse year than Don Draper didn’t hurt either.

Yes, there are times I miss the passivity of cable television.  Randomly popping on a movie I wanted to see but never got around to, but, hey now it’s on TNT so I might as well plop down for 2 hours and enjoy.  I can hope those same movies show up on Netflix eventually but it’s hit or miss.  I still have the big three and Fox to surf through and they still provide an amazing amount of terrific shows.  Of course, no more DVR’ing but if I miss a Thursday night NBC comedy block Hulu is always ready and willing to accommodate me the next day.  All I have to do is rapidly scroll past potential spoilers on twitter for 24 hours, no problem at all.

So where is this heading?  If more and more people can get away from cable companies that force obscene costs onto consumers for channels they never watch, will more and more people be willing to move away from them in favor of the vast number of options appearing daily?  Yes, it’s a little more work to watch shows but that also forces people to only watch what they really like.  Eventually, it could lead to the dream scenario: a la carte television.  A menu could be presented to each customer and he/she could check off ESPN, Discovery, AMC, FX or whatever their heart desires for a low monthly cost.  That specific future of television could take a while, but at least we’re headed in the right direction.

By Alec Bugg

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