TECHNOLOGY REDEFINING THE DEFINITION OF TELEVISION
Dr. Wendy Keys
Brisbane, Queensland Gold Coast
15th May, 2020
Technology Redefining the Definition of Television
Gone are the days when television meant having limited television shows to watch out for or waiting until a certain channel has the rights to air certain content for access to viewers. Television, in this day and age, is a whole other story. The televised idea today has gone on to shift from producer-driven to consumer-driven. The power is now in the hands of the consumer, which is basically how the television game should have been from the beginning. The consumer ought to be able to decide what they want or do not want. The decision to air or not to air certain content no longer resides in the hands of broadcasters. This has been a disruptive development for both operators and broadcasters. Their profit-stream too, has been disrupted. The internet has brought with it a lot of change, both positive and negative. In this case, power rests in the hands of the consumer, who gets to decide what they want access to and what to put aside. In this essay, therefore, the writer will seek to find out how technology has changed the television arena and how it is presented today. In the process, those who have gained and those who have lost will be identified. Television has gone through a similar wave as technological advancement, with inevitable change making adjustments in the way viewing is done today.
The definition of television from back then and today tells two different stories. Before technology took over, television was known to be a device in the shape of a cabinet whose broadcasting was limited to a small number of channels, working on a scheduled programming basis. This is to mean that for people to sit and unwind through the shows that were made available, they were expected to sit in front of this cabinet-like device for their own pleasure. However, this was a limiting way of having to access the people’s favorite shows, given that in most instances, one had to sit through various other shows for their most favorite to start. Today, television has transitioned into something different. Cable, internet and satellite television is what is known today (Montpetit, 2014). There are many channels for people to choose from. People have access to various videos, all based on what they want to have access to, with the option of viewing all these from various devices or just a single one. Tablets and smart-phones have changed the way television has been known for over the years. There is the option of viewing various videos or channels at a go, depending on what one has access to. There is also the option of getting access to what one wants to view while sitting in front of a screen or while on the go. Consumer’s preferences today dictate the type of content created and how the content is accessed.
Consumer’s preferences have brought with them a lot of transformation in the television industry. This transformation has brought with it a change in the business models that people subscribe to. Bandwidth and accessibility to the internet has been one of the transformations. The internet has made it possible for network TV to be a reality, owing to the speed and reliability of the internet in use. This has made the existence of network TVs such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to be available. Streaming via these channels ought to be at a minimum speed for high quality viewing and customer experiences. A standard definition video requires a minimum bandwidth of 1Mbps, with the 4K video streaming also accessible for those in areas where such is available. This cannot be said about the previous television experiences where even the rain could be an obstacle to the experience. Better viewing versions are now available.
On top of the internet speed, devices available today come in various versions. The plug and play devices, for instance, are a force to reckon with. A person is able to connect their Google Chrome Cast and Apple TV to their television sets, enabling this person to easily video-stream (Dimitrijevic, 2017). The installation of add-ons onto the Google Chrome web browser not only increases the viewing opportunities for a person, but also makes to possible for them to gain access to games through the connection. Such connections have also improved one’s ability to remote-control from these connections. Life has definitely become easier with better improvements and devices.
Remote control transformation is yet another redefinition that can be identified in the television experience today. Previously, the need to change channels would require the viewer to walk up to the television set and manually change the channel by the use of buttons on the set. Today, however, the viewer only needs to know what they want and pick it out from the array of channels and videos available. The online streaming services have made this process easier. There are various remotes now available for the viewer’s use. Things have changed for the better, with ‘hectic’ not being a term to be used in today’s television experience.
Furthermore, second screens have made it possible for viewers to watch their preferred programs as they communicate with fellow viewers about what they are plugged into. These screens basically make it possible for one to watch a show from one device and use the other as communication tool with interested parties (Dimitrijevic, 2017). They may be in the form of smart phones or tablets. With such screens, it is important to note that the online streaming services available to the masses have cut out the middlemen that were considered significant before. Products are now easily available over the internet, where the viewers can easily access without necessarily going through a third-party. On this note, over-the-top applications have reduced the costs that a viewer would otherwise be required to part with for service provision to be made possible. Technology, in this sense, has made significant difference to the average viewer.
Television viewing habits
The television experience today has been designed mostly by the youth and for the youth. This means that the products and services that have been made available in the market are mostly targeted at the youthful market of customers. In the United States, for instance, more than a quarter of the total population gets their dose of television via the internet, with the use of online streaming services such as Netflix. Traditional television sets are no longer the main devices through which access to the videos and channels has been made possible. Mobile devices play the same, or even a better role at improving the viewer’s experience. With the youth in site, over 60% get to watch television online (Matthiesen-Jones, n.d.). With such access made possible to the youthful crowd, then there is a greater likelihood that these viewers are able to gain access to the type of content they want since it is readily available online. Such access has been made possible by continuous advancements in technology, with a continuous improvement in the content delivered. Satisfaction by this crowd especially, is at an all-time high, considering the needs that are being met.
Viewing habits are not the only adjustments being made in the television arena; interactive experiences have also been embraced. Television brings with it an interactive experience that all the more motivates viewers to hold on to their love for viewership. The experience is not only interactive, but is also two-way. The latter is clear in the case of being able to watch a sports match live while tweeting about the same, or being able to vote during a reality show. Everything is happening right before one’s eyes. The experiences are closer home and can almost be left. These are the experiences that consumers have been yearning for. The older version of television experiences was defined by a one-way experience, that is, the broadcasting from the television set to the viewers. What this meant was that the consumers was supposed to be satisfied with the options made available or have them find something else to keep them busy (Ghone, 2017). An example would be on Sundays when American soap operas would be showing in the afternoons, only to be followed by some shows that the viewers would basically find boring. The situation today is enlightening and very much resonating with the kinds of lifestyles that human beings have chosen for themselves. With the pace at which technological advancements are happenings, it is no surprise when television interactions are customized for individual viewers.
The type of content made available to the masses has experienced great change. Despite the amount of development that television aspect has undergone, people still maintain their interest in live television. This has, however, significantly changed due to the likes of Netflix and Hulu. The adjustment that has been made in this regard is about the type of content that is now available to the viewers. The type of content that was being broadcasted before was determined on the basis of what cut across all ages, with certain television content being scheduled for later in the night when children would be sleeping while some other content would be scheduled for the mornings. The latter would be family-approved. People of different ages, and different tastes and preferences are constantly gaining access to online streaming (Hall, 2017). To help meet the needs of all people, the content produced also comes with age restrictions, where needed to help prevent children, especially, from accessing content that would otherwise be harmful to their growth and walk. At the same time, this increases the privacy that one can have in the content that they access. Before, the only option was to ask those who were not of age to leave room so that adults could carry on with their viewing. Content producers today are taking all things into consideration, especially those that were a hindrance to satisfactory viewership back then. Technology today has improved the restrictions put in place to ensure that people of all ages get access to what suits their needs and preferences.
Furthermore, there is need to ensure that the content producers have to be aware of the evolution that has happened in the various industries so that the content to be made available meets the needs of consumers. Consumers have also become very particular, and this is something to consider before investing in content to be released to the people. At the same time, it is important to consider the media through which the content will be shown. It has to work for the devices in use today, including television sets (Nguyen, 2014). Failure to produce content that meets such needs may be costly in the long-run for the producer, since this may mean that the consumer needs have failed to be met. The advanced technology in use by some of the producers focuses on the curation aspect, distribution as well as monetization. Content creation for viewership has gone to such great heights as a lack of a need for subscription. This may in turn be an encouragement for a greater audience. This is a step further from the current technology available for television viewing.
Still on matters content development, it is important to point out that even advertisements have been properly placed with the technological advancements present in television. Various channels provide various services to viewers. In this regard, companies have better aligned their products and services with the type of content that is aired on various channels and streaming services. This has made it easier for them to reach their target markets without straining too much.
Lastly, despite increasing access to premium content, going mobile has affected television. Social media is very common today. Back then phones were mostly not portable, but today, they are used for almost any digital activity. In fact, some phones are said to be much better than television sets and laptops alike. Social media gives audiences a voice, but it is also where viewers are lost (Rothfeld, 2014). When complaints are made, and the mass follows in such undertakings, the viewership for certain content is reduced to a point of leading to shutting down production operations for the product. Audiences may hide behind social media to bring down some of the television content aired, and not because they dislike it but because they can have it done. Social media has also grown to a point of customizing the engagers’ content so that in some cases, content that is shown on television is no longer of use to such people. In such cases, this is where television goes to die.
To summarize, technology has had a great impact on the way television is viewed today. It has directly and indirectly affected the type of content made available, the viewing habits of the masses, the business models, and the definition. Technology can only advance from here on. This means that more changes are to be expected and more adjustments are to be made in the way people experience television.
Dimitrijevic, I., 2017. How technology is Changing the TV. [Online] (updated 2017) Available at: <https://it.toolbox.com/blogs/ivandimitrijevic/how-technology-is-changing-television-070417> [Accessed 15 May 2020].
Ghone, P., 2017. How Is Technology Changing The TV Viewing Experience? [Online](Updated 11 Apr 2017) Available at:< https://guide.servify.in/technology-changing-tv-viewing-experience/> [Accessed15 May 2020].
Hall, J., 2017. From TV To Digital Media: How Technology Changes Content development. [Online] (7 Mar 2017) Available at:< https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2017/03/07/from-tv-to-digital-media-how-technology-changes-content-development/#59281e51517a> [Accessed 15 May 2020]
Matthiesen-Jones, M., n.d. Impact of Technology on Modern Television. [Online] (updated n.d.) Available at:< https://study.com/academy/lesson/impact-of-technology-on-modern-television.html> [Accessed 15 May 2020].
Montpetit, M., 2014. The internet is changing the definition of television. [Online] (updated 10 Jun 2014) Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/jun/10/internet-changing-definition-television> [Accessed 15 May 2020].
Nguyen, T., 2014. Digital Technology: Redefining Television. [Online] (Updated 25 March 2014) Available at:< https://filmanddigitalmedia.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/digital-technology-redefining-television/> [Accessed 15 May 2020]
Rothfeld, L., 2014. 6 trends redefining the way we watch television. [Online] (Updated 23 Dec 2014) Available at:< https://mashable.com/2014/12/23/future-of-television/> [Accessed 15 May 2020]