When I was a kid, my life revolved around TV. Saturday mornings were sacred in my house. Armed with a cereal bowl, I’d race to the living room to watch my line up of Saturday morning cartoons (cue: Looney Tunes, Power Rangers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). On school nights, I’d catch up with Arthur and friends, and save the best for last—humanoid aliens battling super villains to save planet Earth (I’m referring to Dragon Ball Z, of course). There was a time when we would sit and wait patiently for our favourite TV show to air. But those days are long gone. We can’t be bothered to wait around for scheduled programming anymore. So, TV has undergone some changes to keep up with the times.
Turning to the Internet to watch TV
Streaming is the new way to watch TV. Don’t have the time to catch the finale of Grey’s Anatomy? No problem. Fire up your laptop and stream the much-anticipated episode at your convenience. This gives you the freedom to choose what you want to watch, when you want to watch it, and on whatever device you choose to watch it on.
Here’s a quick breakdown of streaming. It’s defined as a technology that delivers content—typically audio and video—to computers and mobile devices using the internet. Unlike traditional downloading, streaming allows you to access the content before the file is completely downloaded. You can watch your favourite TV shows (at no additional cost, besides your regular Internet fee) through several online streaming websites. Popular streaming methods include: (1) Streaming content from websites, (2) Android boxes, and (3) Subscription-based streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. There are several online streaming websites that allow you to watch TV shows and movies by simply clicking on a link. Android boxes allows you to access all online streaming sites through your TV. They have become incredibly popular over the years and only require a one-time fee for the box itself. Subscription-based streaming gives you a wide array of selection for movies, TV shows, documentaries and more, but it requires you to pay a small monthly fee.
There have been several unintended effects due to the growing popularity of online streaming. The number of online pirated videos has skyrocketed over the past few years. Everything from the release of popular TV series to movies still in theatre are now available to the masses if they have access to a computer, smartphone or tablet with internet. But this has opened a gateway to a host of new issues—enter, HBO Hackers. HBO is well-known for its widely popular TV programming including the likes of Sex and the City, True Detective, and of course, Game of Thrones. The hackers previously leaked 3.4GB of HBO programming content and demanded the company to pay a ransom equal to six months of the organization’s salary to stop any further leaks. Ultimately, HBO did not give in to the hackers’ demands, but it is coming at a cost to the company in the form of viewership drops.
So, what does the future of TV look like? It’s hard to tell, but previous technologies may give us a glimpse. Ultimately, technologies begin to transform over time to keep up with the trends. TV is not becoming obsolete, instead it’s taking on a new form—via smartphone, apps, and subscription services—and that may not be a bad thing.