The pause button and the change it has made. One of the things I remember from back in the early days of VCR’s was fumbling for a tape that one had space and two was near the VCR so I could record the rest of a show I was watching. There were times when you had to run out, and the VCR was your friend. Except over time, it wasn’t your friend.
It was the DVR and the ability to record multiple shows in the same time slot that won the war. With the VCR you were stuck with recording one show at a time. If you were lucky the VCR had a timer for recording, otherwise, it would continue to record until you got home and turned it off. Sometimes, the recordings were not optimal as well.
Now, with a DVR, you can record more than one show at a single time. You can play and replay shows multiple times. With some of the newer DVR’s, you can connect multiple rooms to a single recording device and watch the shows you like anywhere.
It has changed how I view TV. There was a time when I watched what was on. Now, I don’t have to do that. I watch what I want to watch and if nothing is on, I can turn the babble box off and read. When I was little, TV had a better hold on us than it does now.
Except for the news, I still try to watch the news every night. I learned that from my grandparents (they had the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite on every night at dinner). What I have noticed however is an even more subtle shift in viewing patterns now in the past two years. First off, we are avid Netflix fans. But we now watch as much Netflix as we do live TV. It is getting closer to the time when we probably will stop watching live TV or Network TV other than for the news.
The why of this post – in the US the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) assigns the airwaves to TV stations (local) and allows networks to broadcast to those local stations. Cable and Satellite companies compile the local feeds and resell them to consumers. Today Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are outside of the FCC rules for being on your home television set, having the nightly news on. Is that the next step in the evolution?
Local TV and National TV also have to have a certain number of public service announcements (anti-drinking and driving, anti-smoking, your brain on drugs) as well. I suspect as we evolve and cut the cable, those announcements will be added to the online broadcasters.
All of this because it struck me this morning. Why is there no Netflix news? Why no Amazon Instant update or Hulu the day in review? I suspect these will be the case in two-three years. It seems only logical that in fact, the FCC rules for local and national broadcast will also apply to streaming media producers as well.
Effectively because the VCR was horrible, we have changed both the impact and the concept of home entertainment. From digital music, streaming media and a digital video recorder that allows you to pause live television and resume it at will, it is a different world now than it used to be. Best of all DVR’s get their time from a central source, so you no longer have flashing 12:00’s in your living room!
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