Have you given up television?

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I’m not a big television watcher. Never have been. I enjoy watching sporting events. I love watching movies. And there are shows I wouldn’t miss, like Doctor Who and Dexter. But I’m closer to abandoning what we traditionally think of as television because we’re on the verge of not needing the 500 channels of nothing on. Apple announced the new Apple TV at a $99 price this week, but that’s far from interesting because it will be closed off from most of the solutions that should replace the traditional cable or satellite provider. The Xbox keeps getting closer to the set top box of the future, with ESPN 3, Netflix, and Hulu integration all set to work in concert before the end of the year. If it weren’t for FSN having a death grip on Seattle Mariners baseball games, I’d definitely cancel the TV portion of my Comcast subscription.
One thing I’ve noticed is I stopped downloading anything via torrent because there are easier ways to get what I want to watch. Maybe I’m easy to please, but Netflix does an outstanding job of getting the movies and shows I want to watch quickly, which means there’s no good reason to try and track anything down online. I think that’s the core lesson the entire entertainment industry should take away from the shift caused by BitTorrent. Make it easy enough for people to get the content they want on their own terms and they won’t need to use questionable means to acquire it. It also means there’s less chance of getting a computer full of crapware as evidenced by the number of people who regularly visit JakeLudington.com as I warn them off of anything to do with X3 player and other bogus movie files found on the torrent sites.
Something else I recently noticed is that I’m acquiring far less stuff. I’m not getting physical copies of movies because I know I can watch them on Netflix whenever I want. I don’t even care about having the files on my computer, because I can always get access to them in the future and for the most part the places where I consume entertainment are places with fast connections. Zune Pass and Real’s Rhapsody service, Pandora and Last.fm are all great solutions for music on demand, which for music literally means anywhere if you have a smartphone. Video just came to the iPhone in a big way with Netflix support, which means other services will quickly follow.
Does that mean we can all stop scrolling past QVC on the cable guide and simply watch what we want when we want? Let’s hope so. How about you? Have you given up television? What are you watching instead?

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11 comments

  1. I’ll give up cable the moment I can get Turner Classic Movies in some other manner. Sure I can probably get 99% of the movies through Netflix or some other source, but they don’t have Robert Osborne and the wealth of knowledge he has nor does anyone I know of show the shorts that they do between features.
    Thought I’d miss the news but it increasingly pisses me off so who cares.

  2. I have given up cable down to the basic network channels plus a few public service and advertising channels. I get about 15 channels of nothing for $12/mo instead of 120 channels of nothing for $50/mo. I have also cut my internet download speed from what they called 12 Gb/s to what they call 1.5 Gb/s. I watch very little TV outside of auto racing events and NEVER watch movies. I have Hulu, Miro, Vuze, Zinc, and a couple of other online TV programs, but I find Auto Sports coverage severely lacking on all of these. So, although I have effectively given up on ridiculously priced cable TV, I also have not found a suitable replacement for someone who may watch 1/2 of 3 movies a year.

  3. No, I haven’t given up on TV. I don’t watch ABC, CBS, or NBC. In fact, I usually watch the ‘cable/satellite’ channels like Syfy, USA, Spike, HGTV, History, History International and of course all the kid’s channels, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, Sprout, so on and so forth. I have grandkids. I do have Starz and Encore, but I don’t watch them as much as other people do, too many old movies and repeats.
    Since, I am the ‘Original Couch Potato’, been watching TV since 1948, I don’t think I could ever live without TV. But, to say that I watch everything on TV these days, simply isn’t true, either. I like learning and so many cable/satellite channels are truly geared for learning. Must admit, I STILL miss ZDTech. I learned so much watching those shows. For pleasure, I really like watching NFL, Nascar and MLB. I have loved these sports for a long, long time.
    When I want to watch an older TV series, like Babylon 5, Hulu works for me, extremely well. Not interested in having monthly fees for Netflix or the like. What I am waiting for is for my new LCD TV to be connected up to HDTV from DirecTV, then I can watch On Demand for free, which has many of the movies I want to see. So, TV for me, is just right. I have ‘control’ over my TV and watch just what I want to. }:o)

  4. Until the resoution of the “online” video sources approach the quality I can get via Comcast HD and BluRay i’m afraid TV isn’t dead for me. HULU and Netflix look like crap on a 58″ television.

  5. I like information. I like the occasional movie. I like current news – but get that on Google. So, no- I don’t watch television. It is a dying breed, I’m afraid. Things have progressed beyond standard, 1940-1990’s TV- and the way it’s distributed. Time to get the new-crew into action & to look for viable ways to promote the media in 2010 & beyond,
    T

  6. Here in South Africa, broadcast TV, with the exception of sport, is generally pretty trashy. The cost of broadband still makes on-line real time solutions such as Netflix, hard to justify and thanks to the Hollywood dinosaurs, we’re often denied access. We can subscribe to uncapped ADSL, which makes downloading for later viewing a possibility and I have a collection of free-standing USB drives. I make use of cataloguing software from Collectorz so that I can find a particular movie relatively easily.
    I find a large screen TV oppressive in my living room so I have a high definition projector with a dedicated PC to serve it and I rely mainly on DVDs which I rent or buy – my tastes are not mainstream. I live in a small community and we have to drive 25 miles to the nearest movie house, so like-minded people tend to get together to watch a French movie, say. There is also a groundswell to use a local church hall to accommodate larger groups, but copyright issues will undoubtedly frown on that. I’ve used torrents, but would prefer not to, because the makers of the movies are robbed of reward, and the quality is not always good.
    More than anything I wish that DVD regions and all the other copy protection nonsense would stop. It’s easily got round and I have long believed that most people would accept some sort of credit card based licencing system to pay a sensible price to watch a movie. This week’s announcement by UK’s Tesco that they will sell DVds made specifically for them is an interesting development which I’ll watch with interest. Hopefully the Hollywood dinosaurs will respond to the wake-up call, although I’m not optimistic.

  7. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation tv episode “The Neutral Zone”, Data states that television as a form of entertainment did not last much past the year 2040.
    When I originally watched that episode I scoffed, as at the time I was a habitual television watcher. But, since the advent of the Internet (and the onset of middle age…) I have found myself watching TV less and less.
    Recently, in order to save money, I had our DirecTV satellite discontinued (especially since we called them to ask about cheaper plans and they stated “Oh, you’re on a legacy plan that costs twice as much as this other package where you get the same stuff that we introduced a few years back but neglected to tell you about!”… so much for customer loyalty and good customer service…) and we switched to Netflix at about 20% of the cost. Instant Watch is fabulous! Now I get to watch what I want when I’m in the mood for/have a bloc of time to sit and watch something, rather than schedule around the network execs, or waste time with ads, sit through hours of “nothing on” until something worth watching comes on etc.
    Now I wonder how the on-demand/Internet-facilitated entertainment technology is going to flourish and mature, and I’m forced to wonder whether 2040 isn’t too conservative an estimate after all…!

  8. The one thing, at least for now, that keeps me receiving Netflix DVDs via snail mail is the fact what you get by downloading is 480 lines-per-inch and SD. I went to a lot of effort to put together a relatively respectable home theater, and I’m not about to waste all that capability on movies I will not willing watch from any channel on my TV service provider (AT&T U-Verse), or on DVD (my up-converting Blu-Ray player takes care of regular DVDs, at least partly.) When Netflix can give me a full HD (complete with 1080i, at least), I will forgo the pleasure of any downloads.

  9. Sorry, Jake, but this article reads like a well-written ad for Netflix. It’s hard to believe you’re not getting paid for it.
    I haven’t been watching TV since a few months after 9/11, when I realized that even the news were becoming nothing more than a large advertisement campaign for something we all used to abhor as one of the world’s great evils once upon a time…
    Experienced users know what type of files are kosher and which aren’t, and if you live in a region where your internet connection may not always be 100% stable, watching a file can turn out to be a lot more enjoyable than interrupted watching pleasure that you can even experience with a rented DVD…

  10. While I will be surprised if Netflix doesn’t show up in contextual ads on this page I’m definitely not getting paid by them for what I wrote. And it’s more an ad for the genius of Xbox Live which is quickly becoming the cable box in my house.

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