I was recently asked about an update to a popular blog post I did over a year ago on my antics around my home theater setup. Six months ago, Comcast was proposing a defense to its NBC purchase that said something like “Don’t worry about internet TV – that won’t compete with our content anytime soon” (my post: http://blogs.gartner.com/jack-santos/2010/08/30/internet-video-comcast-and-the-fcc/ )
Not soon. Now.
My setup hasn’t changed much. I now ensure any computer I buy has HDMI, and am considering the Apple TV box, with its wireless interface (I guess that makes me behind the times). What I have found that has changed are my viewing habits.
That change has been immense. Less time in front of the tube, but more time watching targeted or time shifted content.
Like language immersion by watching foreign news channels. Or grabbing popcorn for a “YouTube” night with the wife and checking out what is popular on YouTube (“improve everywhere” or the latest cute kid video). Or doing a deep dive on a news event (actually sitting through Obama’s entire Tucson speech). Or the multitude of “on demand” online movie services (Netflix and Roxio are my favorites). An interesting side effect has been that serial TV program content is just as available as movie content, and can be purchased and viewed a la carte. That’s huge. What has really been fun is watching the occasional TED talk (or Google tech talks). Not just on the big screen, but as a shared experience with the spouse and guests.
There are, no doubt, impacts to society. There was the day when everyone would meet at the water cooler and talk about last night’s “big network event”, like the one where every American who could breathe would sit around and watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Imagine that, the exact same show, at the exact same time – miss it and you lose it. That’s archaic. But as a shared quasi-social experience, it changed us a people.
So the viewing experience is much more individually oriented – on my time, at my whim, with content that I choose (from a broader spectrum). The water cooler chat is replaced with “check this out” emails (seems that sharing movie histories with friends just hasn’t taken off). The choice of content, with features like Netflix’s suggestions, may make me think I am in total control, but I am beginning to rely heavily on algorithmic recommendations. The missing link has been the use of Facebook as an adjunct to Internet TV viewing. That will come too, I’ll bet. A match made in TV Heaven.