Keep Your MTV: I Want My On Demand
Watching television in real time is for the birds, and needs to go.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: August 27th, 2012
t’s amazing how easily we become spoiled. We can live most of our lives without a particular modern convenience, but then once we have it, living without it seems unthinkable. If you’ve ever misplaced your remote control and had to get off the couch to change the channel by hand, you understand how this principle works. And this is what’s happened to me vis-a-vis TV-on-demand.
I don’t watch a tremendous amount of TV, so I tend to miss certain shows that people can't stop talking about. But thanks to Netflix streaming, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and various other TV-on-demand services, I’ve been able to watch shows like Battlestar Galactica, Downton Abbey, Sports Night, and many others, long after they’ve aired and, in most cases, gone off the air.
Having to wait a week between episodes seems cruel, and having to wait many months for a new season to begin is surely against the Geneva Convention.
And having watched so many shows this way, it’s increasingly difficult to watch television programs as they air. Having to wait a week between episodes seems cruel, and having to wait many months for a new season to begin is surely against the Geneva Convention, not to mention that sitting through commercials now seems even more torturous than it did when there was no choice.
I don’t want to schedule my life around air times, I don’t want to have to program a DVR, and I don’t want to buy DVDs anymore. I used to do all those things regularly, but now I can think of nothing that interests me less.
But what about the communal aspect of TV, you say? Those shared experiences that unite us? That water-cooler talk that we won't be able to have when we’re all watching on our own schedule, rather than the networks' schedule? Frak it all, I say. Those things are relics of another era—fine for their time, but pointless and outdated now.
The problem with being an on-demand watcher is that many of my demands are simply not being met. Despite the fact that the world has changed inexorably, and streaming media is the way everyone will consume media in the near future, the media companies aren’t really happy with it.
The corporations that provide our entertainment have never been comfortable with change. They find one way to make money and they want to make money that way forever. So when people stop buying DVDs because they’d rather watch all of The Larry Sanders Show or The Best of Saturday Night Live on Netflix, and they’re sick of cluttering their homes with physical media, the companies who sell DVDs try to think of ways to force people to buy DVDs.
That’s why the most recent season of your favorite show won’t be available for streaming for a ridiculously long time. Despite the fact that we’ve all made it clear that we’re tired of having to curate libraries of our various media, there’s way more profit to be made from a DVD box set than from a monthly Netflix subscription, so we’ll just have to wait six, nine, sometimes 12 months from the end of a show's season for that season to appear in our queues.
Will this strategy work? Of course not. If we can’t wait to see the last season of Dexter, or Weeds, or How I Met Your Two and a Half Men, we’ll just download it.
Sorry if this doesn’t fit into your business plan, Mr. Media Company. You’ve let us sup from the font of streaming entertainment, and we’re not going to go back to the old ways, no matter how much you threaten us with lawsuits or tell us you’ll throttle our bandwidth.
It’s up to you to figure out how to make obscene profits from streaming media, not us. We’re the consumers. All that’s required of us is that we consume.