October 19 2008 / by christinep
Category: Technology Year: General Rating: 6 Hot
With web and interface technology advancing rapidly, the television medium is quickly approaching a new age in which sitting on the couch facing a screen will no longer be the most popular way to consume broadcast content.
Long gone are the days when everyone would crowd around the television at 9:00pm every Thursday night to catch the latest Seinfeld episode.
According to the Nielsen ratings, it appears the annual new season blitz that once drew in more than 20 million viewers is on the decline. Among the top ten shows of the first week of premieres were Dancing with the Stars and Grey’s Anatomy. Each received respective numbers of about 20 million and 18 million viewers as compared to over 25 million just 5 years ago.
So what’s the reason for this sharp drop? Some have speculated that last year’s writers’ strike had pushed people to the cable networks. Other contributing factors include the increasing abundance of cable channels and time-shifted viewing.
Due to advancements in digital viewing and storage technology people simply don’t have to stay at home to watch their favorite premieres. They can now go out and watch it later, or just download the entire season all at once a few months down the road.
What does this mean for the big networks and the near-future of television?
Jason Kilar, the CEO of Hulu.com, points out that “historically, the winners are the ones who embrace change.” So in fashion, the major studios such as Fox, NBC Universal, and Warner Bros have quickly established websites to get in on the online video viewing trend.
Geoffrey Longs, a web media researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, goes further, arguing that “multiple video delivery devices will fracture the traditional shared entertainment experience fostered by TV.”
After all, television is becoming mobile. The rise of portable devices such as the iPod and Creative Zen lines are becoming suitable alternatives. Also, live streaming applications like Slingbox make it possible for real on-the-go television. Just think, a person can watch The Office from a handheld in the supermarket parking lot in case he/she couldn’t make it home in time to watch it air in their living room.
Conclusion: For the past 20 years, prime-time network television has been in a steady downward trend. Though traditional broadcasting appears to be on the way out, the future of transmitted video looks as bright as ever. With the upcoming digital conversion and new advancements arriving day by day, the medium is quickly expanding beyond the confines of the living room.