Internet Killed the Video Star

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Technology is forever evolving; will we soon see the death of the TV as so many other forms have been overridden in the past?

Television has been around for nearly a century now. The technology itself was in development since the late 1800’s, but it was John Logie Baird in the 1920’s who brought the concept to its natural conclusion. It is possibly one of the most successful inventions of all time, and is now considered one of the most basic parts of a household. Which means that suggesting it may be about to die out might sound a little strange.

The argument is that, with the rise of Netflix and Youtube, television is becoming too slow to keep up. Netflix now makes around $3.6 billion dollars (about £2.2 billion pounds), while Youtube is now one of the most regularly visited sites of internet history, as well as one of the most successful. With a viewer base like that, it may soon come to pass that the days of the BBC and ITV rivalry will fade from TV scenes and move onto sites like iplayer and ITVplayer, with entire series becoming available at once.

On demand content is accessible at any time, and can be watched as quickly or slowly as you wish. The internet is now also easier to access than ever before, with improvements constantly being made to it –and its distribution is cheaper and broader in scope than television. Daily television content has always been regarded as weak outside of news programmes; I doubt anyone will mourn the loss of Loose Women, Location Location Location or the bevy of cooking shows (at least now that Ready Steady Cook has disappeared). Critics believe that the advantages of On Demand, as well as the waning interest in these sorts of shows, will soon kill off television.

The argument makes a lot of sense. We’ve seen how new technology has killed off old ones:  vinyl replaced with tapes, replaced with CD’s, which are now in the process of being defeated by downloads. Video’s are also nearly gone, thanks to the DVD. And TVs themselves have evolved since the days of Cathode Ray boxes. Now there’s plasma and LCD involved!

But the argument falls flat once it comes across certain things. Firstly, there is still a vast amount of social convention surrounding TVs. People sit down on the couch and watch TV to be social, because it’s quick and easy, and because it becomes part of our routine. We like to have something happen at a specific time, because it gives us all something to talk about. We can chat to each other about the latest episode of Doctor Who, argue over who’s the most repulsive TOWIE “star”, or slag off Atlantis together, because we’ve all seen it at the same time. Plus, internet connections are still not nearly as reliable as TV signal – heck, Loughborough’s connection isn’t even reliable, and we’re a university! TV may eventually die out, once enough of a generational gap has come about, but I think that’s a long way away now.

Alex Davies

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