High Time to Drop Cable Television!

“Time to drop cable television? Not so fast? (Reuters 25 JUL 08)”

This Reuters story – also reprinted in Scientific American is a great example of the misconception that the “new” in new media is a technical question.

Changes in media usage behavior and acceptance of new media are almost always based on sociodynamics once the technology is reasonably affordable and usable by the target audience.

Kenneth Li mentions the “complexity of hooking up these devices [Roku, Sony Bravia Internet Link, Amazon UnBox Video on Demand (NY Times Story) lack of content and relatively high prices” [… and a] general aversion to yet another gadget in the living room […] are other reasons why the idea has failed to catch on.”

There is way more content available than anyone has the desire, need or time to watch and high cost and even technical complexity has never kept customers from adopting new gadgets. Crystal Radios were difficult to use and expensive in the 1920 and people were excited as they offered a new source of content and entertainment. For the same reason, YouTube acceptance

Ducretet crystal radio (1923)

Ducretet crystal radio (1923)

It’s high time to get rid of CATV (and Sat TV as it is served today for that matter) – get rid of an obsolete way to consume content. Not the “limited offers” of Netflix (Roku), AMZN, … but the behavioral change to decide what to watch rather than surfing a never ending stream is the hard part.

According to 2008 Census data, the average daily TC consumption for adults is 4.7 hrs, with at least a few not watching at all, this leaves even more time to work on for the others. Anything above 2 hrs per day cannot be accomplished unless you do something else at the same time, which is easy if the box just spits out stuff, but personally programming 35-40 hrs hrs per week, selecting the content, lining it up and presenting it becomes a major task, especially as you cannot order from Netflix or any of the other systems “Three hrs of junk-content to keep the TV filled while nobody is watching”.

As TV screens move from the media armoire into your left hand, active and interactive participation increases and this triggers changes in the programming. Few people will hold their cell phone for extended periods to watch stuff they’re not really interested in.

A good way to check if you’re ready to drop your cable TV life support is to try to live without it. If you don’t want to get a Netflix (or similar) subscription as CATV is expensive enough, record a week’s worth of movies, series, sports events and complement it with content available over the Web. If after a week you find yourself on cold turkey from missing QVC and late night infomercials, then you’re probably stuck. Otherwise check the cancellation policy and you’re on your way to become an active viewer rather than a passive watcher.

Photo courtesy of Mike Peebles: Crystal Radios, Tube Radios, and Transistor Radio Kits, Parts, Plans, Vintage Publications, Books & Ready to go Sets. You can actually buy a crystal radio or radio kit from Mike Peebles.

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