Watching TV without the TV
I was on vacation for part of last week, and once I got home and started to get back in the swing of things, I thought to myself, "I missed seeing Countdown a few days . . . thank God for the Internet." Because MSNBC has the last few aired shows available to watch--in easy-to-watch clips rather than the whole show--on their website. Thus, I was easily able to get my Keith Olbermann fix.
And that made me start thinking: are we at a point now where you don't even really need a physical TV anymore? Sure, there's still events that you're not willing to wait for the show to be available online, and Internet watching removes some of the community feel of TV watching. Yet for the most part, I think we're getting close to a tipping point. Between sites like Hulu and individual network websites, I think a large portion of the mainstream TV audience could let their TV sets gather dust while their broadband Internet connection gets a real workout.
However, there's a few caveats to this, and if you read that last sentence, you should be able to see the big two: "mainstream TV audience" and "broadband Internet". If you live in part of the US that doesn't have broadband access, and there's still a lot of places like that, you'll probably going to be using your TV still. And for those people who don't just watch CSI and Lost and 24, the restricted access to more unusual shows would probably be a deal-breaker.
Since I fall into the latter group, while I don't think I'm ready to give up my TV set quite yet, I have to say that I'm using the Internet more and more to watch TV. And in tough economic times, if I can find a way to live with waiting to see shows once they're online, I'd definitely dump my cable TV and use my TV to watch DVDs.
How about you? Do you think TV on the Internet is only going to keep growing, or will this be a flash in the pan? And what does this mean for our library services?