It’s pretty obvious that the way we watch television in 2016 is vastly different than how we watched television in previous years. Wikipedia told me that Tivo was introduced in 1999 and that’s when I think things really started to change. With the continued improvements in DVR and On Demand television, not to mention streaming options like Netflix and Hulu, the scope of TV has changed dramatically.
Here are the major differences I’ve seen in watching television in the ’90s compared to today.
Missing an episode
In the ’90s: “Crap! I missed an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now I’m going to have to ascertain what happened this week when I watch the recap preceding next week’s episode. Anytime something happens that I don’t completely understand, I’m going to wonder if it’s a reference to this one episode that I missed. I’m going to have to wait until after the season is over and they play reruns. Hopefully they’ll play reruns… I don’t want to have to wait until syndication!”
Today: “That’s ok. I’ll just avoid Twitter and Tumblr for a day or two until I can catch the episode on Hulu. I rarely watch live anymore anyway.”
Location, location, location
In the ’90s: “I hate that I can only watch television in the living room and the den. It’s such a bummer when my family wants to watch something and I’d rather watch something else.”
Today: “Well, the main television has been commandeered. That means I have the choice of watching Netflix on my laptop, my tablet, or my phone. Decisions, decisions.”
Watching that episode again
In the ’90s: “It looks like it’ll be a good episode, so I need to make sure I have a blank VHS tape ready for when the 8pm show time rolls around.”
Today: “I have to do literally nothing except hit ‘replay episode’ on my device of choice. I do not have to be preemptive at all.”
When to watch
In the ’90s: “My favorite show comes on every Tuesday night at 9pm. I must make sure that I make no social plans for that evening and that all necessary chores are completed before the show comes on. I only have one shot to watch this show and I can’t miss it!”
Today: “I’ll watch it when I’m good and ready to watch it. I don’t even know what day or time my favorite show comes on TV. I haven’t had a cable subscription in 3 years. People still watch live TV?”
Of course, I might be exaggerating a little with the lack of watching live TV. I don’t do it myself, but I know plenty of people who still watch shows when they come on. Just last year, someone I used to work with said that he didn’t watch a certain show because he was never home when it was on. I looked at him like he had three heads and wondered what time machine he stepped out of. And then I realized that it’s possible that television is not as important to some people as it is to me. Maybe I’m the one with the problem..
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