Television Without the TV: New Age of Binge-Watching
Back in the dark ages of the 1990s, if you wanted to watch television shows, a television with either an antenna or a cable box was required. Watching video on the Internet did not seem like an option since video took forever to load, froze easily, and one ill-timed phone call would knock you offline. Fast-forward to the present and original video series are cropping up everywhere online now, including on Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).
While web series have been a fixture of the Internet in the past few years, ranging from Nostalgia Critic to scripted series like Blue, major technology firms are starting to get into these video platforms. AOL has several shorter documentary-style series on its AOL Originals webpage. Netflix started the mainstream entrance with Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. Now, even the largest technology companies are getting into the act.
Yahoo is serious about its entry into original scripted programs. So far, the company has recruited Paul Fieg, an acclaimed comedy director, for its television. His work includes directing comedy hit Bridesmaids and creating the critically acclaimed television series Freaks and Geeks. This is in-line with Yahoo’s recent M.O. of recruiting big names to help launch or rebrand a section. Other recent big name hires include news anchor Katie Couric and makeup and lifestyle guru Bobbi Brown.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is taking a different route to online video content. It is building on its preexisting Xbox platform to bring Xbox Originals, a series of games and sports-based programing, to its audience via Xbox Entertainment.
These non-television based programs are beginning to compete with and for some users, replacing regular television, especially among young adults. The reasoning is to why bother getting a digital antenna, cable, or satellite when for $7.99 a month or less, television is easily available? Some network and cable channels are even getting into the mix by offering the ability to stream recent episodes for free on the channel’s website shortly after it airs on television.
It’s too early to say if television is going the way of radio, but a shift is occurring. Television still pulls in viewers with intriguing content, but that medium is no longer alone in producing the video viewers want to watch after a long day. Sometimes, even when a network is producing a popular program such as Bones or 24, viewers are not necessarily watching it via television. Television is going cross-platform with some programs crossing over to the Internet and other shows being created exclusively for the web. Either way, as a viewer, it means that the options for what to watch and when to watch it are increasingly up to the viewer’s discretion and the quality of Internet connection.