Podcast Video | Posted by Phil Leigh on August 17, 2009
If you would like to learn how my media usage changed during a recent period of enforced idleness, this audio program is for you.
Owing to medical leave during the past two-weeks I have been relatively inactive at the office. This led to an increase, as well as a change in the pattern of, media consumption. Today’s podcast explains how.
The equipment and services available in my home include CATV and broadband Internet access along with a flat panel TV that is connected to both a TiVo and a laptop computer. The laptop functions as an Internet Gateway for the TV. Thus the flat panel unit can function as either a conventional TV or a giant monitor for the Internet-connected laptop. The selection-of-function is done with a conventional TV remote unit merely by pushing one button. When used as a monitor for the laptop the Internet Explorer browser is controlled from the living room sofa with a LogiTech remote mouse and keyboard.
On a typical day I would first check the TiVo “Now Showing” selections that had been recorded. About half the time I was not interested in watching the recorded shows most of which were selected by the TiVo service as opposed to ones that I programmed. If there was nothing in the “Now Showing” inventory, I would start channel surfing live TV in hopes of finding something worthwhile. Generally I could not locate anything worth a grown man’s time.
However, when I did, I would let the show buffer while I went to my home office to check email and read articles. After TiVo buffered about 30 minutes of the desired show I would return to the living room to watch it. The buffering normally enabled me to watch the entire show without having to look at any commercials because I would fast forward through them.
When there was nothing on TiVo or live TV that I wanted to see, I would go to my home office and search imbd.com for interesting movie titles. For example, I browsed the top 250 movies as rated by imbd.com website visitors and found 8 – 10 that I wanted to see.
To find them I would first check to see if the movies were available for rental from Amazon-Video-on-Demand through my TiVo. Only a couple of them were available. One I bought and the other I rented. Both were downloaded directly to my TiVo. The first download did not work and I had to call both Amazon and TiVo to get it fixed. The second one worked okay.
Second, if the movie was not available at Amazon-Video-on-Demand, I would search for it on free websites such as YouTube. Surprisingly, I found a couple of the movies there. They had to be watched in ten-minute sequential segments, but there were no commercials and it was free. As noted, with the laptop as Internet Gateway I was able to watch them on the flat panel TV screen in my living room.
Third, if nothing was available on TiVo, live TV, Amazon-Video-on-Demand, or places like YouTube, I would visit Hulu.com. Generally, on Hulu I chose to watch old movies. Selecting titles was aided by the helpful reviews of Hulu.com subscribers. Once again, I watched them on the flat panel TV by using the laptop computer as an Internet Gateway. Although they were free, I had to endure the commercials.
Fourth, sometimes in the process of searching for movies to watch from the home office PC, I would discover long-tail content that was only available at websites like YouTube. For example, I read a fair number of novels each year and was able to find video interviews with some of my favorite authors. Generally, I watched them on my desktop PC, but sometimes I would watch them on the flat panel TV in the living room.
The experience left me with three major inferences.
One: We channel surf because we don’t like what is on TV. It is not a cliché to say of cable television, “Hundreds of channels but nothing to watch”. Channel surfing is a habituated practice that points to a future characterized by a video-centric Internet where all content is searchable and immediately available.
Two: After only limited exposure to services such as Hulu.com and Apple TV and Amazon-Video-on-Demand rentals, consumers are going to abandon video rental stores like Blockbuster. Their frequency-of-visits to Blockbuster will tail-off sharply.
Three: The Long-Tail is going to be far more important than the established media companies would like to think. If consumers can’t find your stuff conveniently at YouTube, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix streams, or similar services, they’re going to discover other shows to like.
If you don’t believe me, experience it yourself. Searching videos on YouTube is like channel surfing on steroids. Guys who channel surf the TV are already telling you their not finding what they want. Once they get habituated to surfing for videos on the Web via the TV set, the time they spend on CATV networks will steadily decline.