Online TV and program watching has been rising considerably in the past year. With more and more viewers switching to online forms of entertainment, the percentage of people enjoying web surfing as opposed to standard TV seems to grow more and more even. Is it possible that web surfing could overtake and replace TV watching as a national pastime? Some national studies make the case that yes, it could. However, television is a very persistent medium and will be unlikely to vanish completely.
The Upswing of Internet Viewership
Internet viewership has expanded exponentially since the medium first appeared, and only shows signs of continuing to grow. With an increasing amount of devices capable of accessing the Internet and streaming video, more and more users can have online television and Web surfing capability at the tips of their fingers. Also, traditional cable viewership has declined, leading to the scrambling of cable companies to repackage their choices and has even caused industries like Hollywood some concern. According to the Pew Research Center, the amount of adults watching traditional television as opposed to viewing other forms of media daily has dropped to almost fifty percent. Simultaneously, Internet use per day has jumped at least fifteen percent. These kind of trends can’t be ignored; even NPR has covered the phenomenon with specials on the data. One of their guests, a professor of information, claimed last week that people are choosing to have entertainment “when they want it” instead of conforming to traditional cable schedules. They do this by using the Internet.
The Persistence of Television
However, the technology that has been in use for the last seventy years and counting is hardly dying. Television broadcasts, while their user base has changed, have largely remained the number-one way most people get their news and entertainment. But with usage hovering just over fifty percent, it’s not a question of whether TV will fall behind other media forms, but when. Of course, this does not entirely discount television as a media form: It will survive, albeit in smaller percentages of use than most other forms of media.
Television providers are also altering their plans to appear more like the Internet in the ways that they appeal to customers. Services like TiVo made primitive steps toward this in the way that they allowed customers to catch shows when the customer wanted: now, services like Netflix and pay-per-view continue to change how people perceive their television experiences, and when they do. Personal choice has become much more an element in today’s TV watching that it ever has before, and this is unlikely to change.
The Media of the Future
The Internet has been hailed as the way of the future, the entertainment form that will dominate the twenty-first century. But will it? Television and even radio still continue to exist, receive funding, innovate and acquire new viewers and listeners, despite the development of the Web. Web surfing is growing at a high pace, but it will be quite a while before it completely overtakes television as a dominant viewer pastime in the home. Perhaps the two will even balance each other, taking up equal amounts of time like a sort of entertainment yin and yang. This is the best that both cable companies and Internet providers could hope for, as it encourages competition and development. Keep an eye on your Web usage versus your TV viewing–you may be surprised!
This article was composed by TJ Barea, a freelance tech writer based in the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati. TJ takes an interest in a variety of tech subjects; aside from the internet and television, he has an interest in fascinating gadgetry such as miniature cell phones and wireless temperature monitoring.
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