As various online services gain popularity,
the question of television’s relevance arises
By Yameen Hameed
Every night after junior Chloe Dufour finishes her homework, she watches programs including “House” and “Burn Notice.” However, she said she normally does not do this on TV, but through the website Hulu due to its convenience.
“You know it’s just there,” Dufour said. “You can even get it on your iPhone or iPad now. The thing about sites like that is that they’re trying to be super convenient for you.”
Like many other students here, Dufour is part of a global shift from the TV to various Internet services. While she finds the accessibility to be the primary reason to switch, she also said she finds the advertising experience to be superior to TV.
“It’s very effective,” Dufour said. “You can click on the ads and get right to the products.” Dufour also cited shorter advertisements as an advantage to those on cable.
According to CHTV adviser Hal Espey, factors such as these help certain kinds of businesses become obsolete. He compared the current situation regarding TV shows to that of movies.
“If you see the progression, stores like Blockbuster are pretty much history,” Espey said. “Nowadays they’re being replaced by Redbox and Netflix.” Espey said he believes online services may succeed TV in a similar manner, due to their perceived advantages.
However, not all students find online services to be more advantageous overall. Senior Savini Ranaweera says she prefers to watch programs on the television itself, with one reason being the fact that most shows premiere on television first.
“I feel like it’s more special; you’re seeing (the show) before everyone else,” Ranaweera said. Ranaweera said she also believes it has become a tradition for families to watch television together. Although Dufour usually watches programs online, Dufour said she still agrees, as she spends some time watching television with her parents every week.
“For my family at least, it’s become a routine to watch ‘The Office’ or ‘30 Rock,’” she said.
Ranaweera said while more people will be shifting to the Internet for entertainment, such as college students who cannot access cable easily, there will not necessarily be many people who stop watching television.
“I feel like people are very lazy, so it’s easier for them to watch TV and channel-surf,” Ranaweera said. Although Ranaweera acknowledged the fact that people have the ability to display computer screens on a television, she said it is too much of a hassle for the average viewer. Similarly, Dufour said an average viewer may not appreciate Internet services as much as a dedicated fan.
“If you like a show enough, you’ll use the Internet to get your fix,” Dufour said. “Meanwhile, most people will just hear about a show and watch it occasionally.” As such, both Dufour and Ranaweera said it will be difficult for cable to be replaced in the near future. Espey shares this belief.
“(Cable will not be obsolete) immediately, but it does make you wonder where it’ll be in five to 10 years,” Espey said. Espey said he believes all services for TV programs are primarily businesses.
“A cable company is nothing more than a retail shop,” Espey said. “It takes a product someone else has created, repackages it and sells it to a consumer.”
Dufour said she expects cable companies will thus bundle more services with cable, such as an Internet connection and phone service. Espey said this could go even further.
“If there are any business arrangements that can be made where cable or satellite companies team up with Internet connections, they will (be successful),” Espey said. “These companies aren’t blind to (the shift to online viewing) so they would be willing to change their technology.”
According to Espey, an important benefit provided by Internet services is that the companies will be able to better target audiences, being able to see viewers’ feedback more easily. Despite these differences, Espey said both methods for viewing TV shows are still running strong and will continue to so long as they can make money.
“(The preference) definitely depends on the viewer,” Dufour said.