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Remote Controlling Your Life

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The infamous remote control – the wireless universal device that connects us to television, providing us with news, information, perhaps an escape from reality, or maybe all three. Some say that cable/satellite television has taken over a good percentage of our lives and usually the source of water cooler chatter the next day, causing more people to watch certain events on TV that they normally don’t have an interest in.

Why not cuddle up with a good book, or read the newspaper, or go outside and get some much needed fresh air? Any one of us could chime in and say, well, that’s what “‘iPad’s, and Kindle’s, and vacations are for!” On average, the percentage of people who watch major network television skyrocketed this year. With high-profile productions like the Superbowl and the Oscars, many people feel the need to watch these programs, even if they aren’t huge sports fans or movie buff’s.

Why? They are a large part of our culture, a “staple in the entertainment world,” as my friend Erin states. But despite these productions, which only happen a few times a year, whats the draw to having cable television? Do we really need it? There are so many options and channels available to address anyone’s needs. Outside of reality television, (I know, I often go back to this topic as an example) on cable channels like E! Entertainment News, Bravo, VH1, and MTV, there are plenty of shows available that offer quality programming. I think there are far too many to list, many of which I have written down as “shows to catch up on”. I can almost guarantee that everyone who reads this has started to watch a television show based on others suggestions, rather than watching it from the pilot on their own free will. I admit that has happened to me on more than one occasion. One of the first things I prefer cable for is the sports package, (obviously) but even more incredible is one of the best inventions on the planet: DVR. Digital Video Recording, I salute you. Sometimes, life gets in the way.  To be able to come home after a long day of work, or school, and watch something you enjoy (fast forwarding through annoying commercials) is truly one of life’s little pleasures.

Here’s today’s debate:

With the spring season almost upon us, the moving season has begun. I remember when I was moving in to my apartment, outside of water and electricity, one of the first items I took care of was the cable/internet bill. Recently, two of my friends moved into an apartment together. They are deciding not to have cable at their place. Faithful readers, I ask, is this a smart decision? While yes, I realize not everyone is like me, getting up just a little bit earlier in the morning to watch reruns of Saved By the Bell on TBS, even though I own every single season on DVD. I also realize that everyone is not a diehard sports fan like me, switching back and forth between games on television and either game-casting or watching them live on ESPN3. I’ll even admit I have given up television on vacations that usually last roughly 7-10 days, but that is about all I can stand without feeling disconnected and current with whats going on in the world.

But really, no cable? In  their defense, my friends DO have a high-speed internet connection as well as a Netflix account. What’s the point of having cable/satellite TV and paying ridiculous fees when you can just instantly download them? Well – that’s a good question.

Over the past couple of years, approximately 800,000 people in the US gave up TV for the web according to the Convergence Consulting Group. With new features like HD channels and other bells and whistles, people are getting tired of the additions to the cable bill every month. It seems the web will always be a cheaper alternative, but is it more about the convenience of price or is it something else? 800, 000 people does not seem like a lot but if it continues to grow, which it very well might, it could put a damper on the $84 billion dollar cable/satellite television market (Source: Techcrunch.com). Remember the annoyance of the “switch to digital television” ordeal? This turned a lot of people off to explore the web-based television experience.

My MacBook Pro – and my connection to well, everything.

According to a study done by Logitech, ZDnet.com, talks about the power of the remote control, and how television controls our lives more than we might think – or expect.  According to the study, 36% of Americans would rather give up sex for a month then give up their remote control to watch television. THIRTY-SIX PERCENT, really?! According to an article from the technology section of MSNBC, “Twenty-seven percent of respondents would prefer to stop using their toothbrushes for a month than lose access to the remote control. ” Okay, I love new episodes of Glee and a basketball double-header as much as the next person, but, getting rid of toothbrushes? Ew. Just…ew. That’s a bigger number than I would like to see. I am not sure whether the correlation between the remote control versus actually watching television is there, or the increase of laziness in Americans, but you get my point.

Since the Comcast Corporation recently acquired the rights to take over NBC Universal, the company has been exploring ways to target the online video community head on. They have control of most online sites including  Telemundo, CNBC, Universal Pictures studio, and even a little percentage of Hulu.com. Comcast offering the rights to these shows online is still in negotiation stages. The market is still very new, but it offers alternatives for those who only want to watch specific shows and not waste their money on programs they could care less about. Seems pretty reasonable to me, but it also seems to come down to having a personal choice about what they ultimately want to watch, and a solid internet connection.

Don’t forget – that will result in the scrutiny of internet service providers and its performance. I personally, love being able to flip through channels and “surf” to find something I’d enjoy, if I have free time on my hands. However, I would prefer specific cable packages, others would potentially disagree with. (i.e. sports over movie channels, etc.) Since Apple, Amazon.com and Netflix are amongst the top online competitors to network and cable television, will they emerge victoriously? We can only watch and find out. Share your thoughts below:

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3 Comments

  1. Greg says:

    Sonitha is a primary respondent for both giving up his Toothbrush and Sex

  2. Mos says:

    Very good read that really brings forth a topic that many people are unsure of an answer for. Personally, I can easily give up TV and I do all of the time(right now included). I use a VGA cable so I just hook my computer up to my flat screen and use my neighbors internet. I have DVDs galore including many tv shows I haven’t watched yet. And I do heavy reading in my magazines and books.
    Good stuff though and the toothbrush percentage is crazy!

  3. mcbias says:

    I’ve managed to do it–in fact, I don’t even have a TV. It is mostly a good thing, but I really miss my live sports. I can’t provide as much good analysis or have great discussions if I’m just reading what everyone else said. But I just go out to a sports bar if it’s a really important game. Otherwise, though, I’m glad I don’t get trapped into 3 hour watching sessions when I just planned to see one 30 minute show.

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