• Cody Tretschok

How Evolved is Your TV Watching?

Overview

I guess I’m old enough to have seen the complete evolution of the modern television delivery system. At least up until the current state-of-the-art, that is, since I’m sure it will continue to evolve. All I know is that the way we watch TV today is vastly different than when I was growing up.

Background

Back in the good old days, as I often reflect on them, TV was very simple. You had a choice of about 4 channels – depending on whether or not you had “rabbit ears” on your set, or your parents had a fancy ariel on the roof. (Remember antennas? My friend’s parents had one that was 10-feet wide and could be rotated to get the best picture!). In Tucson there was no such thing as cable, so you watched what the networks offered, when they offered it.

Later, cable TV came along, and we suddenly had multiple options to choose from! Then satellite TV added even more options with significantly better picture and sound quality. If you were really well-off and had a large area in your back yard, you got a huge C-band satellite antenna, and you could get literally thousands of different channels. (I remember playing with a friend’s system years ago – I found something I liked, but decided to keep on exploring. After an hour of running through the channels, I never could find that original program again!)

Once we had so much to watch, we decided we needed a way to record things so we could watch programs later. First, we used VCRs, which were horrible to program and mediocre quality at best, but then the folks at TiVo invented the DVR. Suddenly everything was digitally recorded, and the copy was exactly the same quality as the original. Later, high-definition and bigger DVR storage made it so we could record hundreds of programs and watch them whenever we wanted. TV was as good as it would get, and we were done evolving! Or so we thought.

Competition But No Price Reduction

With multiple satellite and cable providers all giving us essentially the same thing, we figured the prices would drop too, due to competition. Then we’d truly have it all: great picture and sound quality and the ability to store whatever we wanted in a perfect format. But the prices never did go down. In fact, they went up and up and up.

So we looked for other options. Maybe we didn’t really need all of those programs. Maybe we could live with something less, as long as the price was significantly less. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu offered lots of older television programs that we could watch – who cares if it aired several months ago, right? Plus, with modern antennas and signals, we could go back to the old ways and get our network programming over the air. Many people thus became “cord cutters”, referring to the move to cancel the cable and just receive programming over the air or through low-priced streaming services.

Live Streaming TV

With all of these new cord-cutters, several of the existing companies got the message and created yet another way to get your television programming: live streaming TV. Instead of getting it over the air or through a cable or from a satellite in space, you can now just get it over the internet. Companies like YouTube TV, fuboTV, Hulu, Sling, Philo, AT&T and more now offer packages where you can get most of the programming that you previously enjoyed from your cable or satellite provider, but at a much lower price. Even the cable and satellite providers are getting into the game, offering their own internet TV options.

Conclusion

As the way we get our television programming evolves, there continue to be more options than ever.Is internet TV the best and final answer?With significantly reduced pricing and infinite cloud DVR storage, it’s definitely a contender, even considering the reduced number of program options. I continue to pay for my high-priced DirecTV satellite service, however, due to the number of channels I want, as well as the 4K programs (the World Series in 4K looks spectacular, for example!)But maybe it’s time for me to evolve my TV programming as well?

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