Are Televisions Going Extinct?

Kotaku recently published an article talking about how he thought that the death of television is eminent. The base premise of his argument was that he no longer watched shows on television, instead choosing his iPhone, iPad, PSP Vita or 3DS for all of his entertainment needs. I think he is in an extreme minority in this sort of mentality though.

The first question that comes to my mind is this… So you are sitting down to watch Lord of the Rings.. and you say to yourself… “man this big screen high definition television with surround sound really suck, I’m turning it off in favor of slapping in ear buds and watching it on a 5″ screen”? Really? That is your thought process? Now I understand the convenience of having a phone on you and being able to watch stuff on the go… that is great, but if you had a choice between a normal television and an iPhone, you would really sit on your couch and watch a movie on your iPhone and keep the TV off? You sir, are doing it wrong. In the biggest sense of the word wrong.

I imagine this fellow is a New Yorker who is always on the go and very rarely home. I think this is a much smaller minority than he realizes. Sure all his friends might be in a similar place. They are likely all literally in the same place. The reason New York is important is that most New Yorkers don’t even own a car. Most New Yorkers commute via public transportation and thus might have a little downtime to blow using the phone such as watching a movie or television show. The problem is, most Americans don’t commute that way, most people drive. If you don’t commute via public transportation or have a lot of traveling in your profession, chances are you are going home and enjoying your television set more than going home and enjoying your tiny iPhone screen.

The point of not getting your television shows from broadcast is a good one. More and more people are getting their entertainment via internet streaming. I heard this morning on NPR that 1/3rd of all internet usage between 8pm and midnight comes from Netflix streaming, and I don’t doubt it. I myself watch far more on Netflix than I do broadcast television (I only watch about 3-4 hours of broadcast a week, yet likely 2-3 hours a night on netflix). The problem with this being an avenue away from television is that I would rather still watch Netflix on my TV (which I often do via my Wii U).

I’m actually in process of creating an HTPC which would actually replace my PC almost completely so that all computing would be done on my TV. And I think this actually is what is going to happen more and more. People are still more comfortable with their TV than PC anyway and people like their TVs for the most part, I don’t think it is going away. Instead, TV companies and other companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Nintendo, Sony, and yes even Valve are going to figure out how to merge the two so that you can use your TV as a PC and still watch your movies and television shows on your TV. Even with me, the only reason that my HTPC idea may not work is that I have ADD and will most certainly have issues with concentrating on one thing at a time. To me, this is a reason to get a tablet or convert the Wii U tablet in order to be a second monitor, so that I can do multiple things while doing things on the big screen. I may also decide to run things on split screen on the TV just so that I can do something while watching TV.

Broadcast television is a different story. That is definitely going the way of the Dodo. For one, like the article mentioned, most television can be streamed from the internet, and I think people in general would rather watch things when they want to watch them rather than when broadcasters want us to watch them. Further, streaming usually gets you less or no advertising than broadcast television which means you can generally see more in the same amount of time. I know I personally would rather pay to not see commercials and to see older television at that and be able to see it at my leisure than watching new television with 40% of it being commercials. I doubt I’m the only one. It also doesn’t help that most of the broadcast television is utter crap.

So yes, Broadcast television is on its deathbed, but rest assured Television itself is nowhere near dead.