The Idiot Box Is More Idiotic Today!

We have our choice of content on demand

Television was often referred to as the idiot box. This was based on the notion, that true learning came from written material of books and print, and that television was mere mindless entertainment that dumbed down society.

The more time people spent glued in front of the ‘telly’ watching soap operas (actually sponsored by soap companies with their commercials and ergo the sobriquet), one would intellectually recede.

Time has long past since the days of black and white and television that became such an integral part of our living room. The advent of colour and live news broadcast certainly epitomized the central role television played in our lives.

The TV guide was sacrosanct elucidating the various channels and various showtimes. We were slaves, rather captive to what was shown when, where and our best bet was to record the show on our VCR, if we intended to watch a repeat.

Today, television has been relegated to the hideous physical form it comes in. Cable news and cable TV is archaic and near redundant. Confused, let me illustrate with a simple example?

What does Tuesday, at 9pm on ABC/CNN/HBO mean to you?

Precious little? There was a time when you memorized the TV guide and rushed home to catch the a new episode of Baywatch/Fall Guy/the grand finale of American Idol perhaps?

But today, you can’t remember when was the last time you watched the 9pm news? Most of us can’t remember. How about when was the last time, either of us watched the 8pm news? Or peeked into the 7pm headlines?

I am not doing a ratings check for Nielsen but what this points to is the fact that the sacrosanctity of watching a 9 pm bulletin or tuning into the 10pm soap opera is a thing of the past.

Even though we didn’t watch the 9pm news last night or failed to catch the latest edition of Suits on TV, we have content on demand. What you want, when you want and your choice on your platform of consumption.

YouTube first changed that in the early 2000s with various snippets of videos for you to relive. Today, it’s Netflix that is one of the highest valued content platforms curating an eclectic mix of original shows with oldie goldie movies and TV series for you on demand.

HBO, soon played catch up and started its own on demand content. Amazon, the behemoth that it is, has diversified effectively into Amazon Prime for quality content. Facebook and Google are increasingly looked at as content giants, even if they don’t produce content, we increasingly consume content on these platforms.

Funnily enough, the last fortnight at my sister’s place in Atlanta, there is a whole smorgasbord of channels — from Xfinity LIVE stream to Netflix to HBO to Hulu to Amazon Prime. At times, I need more than one remote to get to what I want to view. If I want to catch the latest season of the Big Bang Theory, I can view it on HBO GO, watch it live on Xfinity LIVE stream or even look at DVR recordings or Pay Per View on one of the other outlets. It’s no wonder my brother-in-law who works for a media powerhouse in Turner (Parent company is Time Warner) said TV viewing has become more and more complicated today.

Back in the day, it was termed Channel 6 or Channel 9 since they were literally on those numbered channels. With the advent of data analytics, content platforms and the plurality of smart devices, traditional form of television, just like these channels does find that its days are ‘numbered’.

Geopolitics at Fletcher School, Tufts| TEDx Speaker| Op-Ed Writer| Panel Moderator| Storyteller| Thought Leadership

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on June 1, 2018.

A journalist by profession. He writes about business & finance, geopolitics, sports & tech news. He is a TEDx & Toastmasters speaker. Follow him @Akshobh

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