Diane Wild of TV, Eh? has a great post about her decision to switch from watching TV via regular channels (literally) to online streaming. She has a look at what options are available in Canada, where the amount of content we can get online is significantly less than in the U.S. (due to Hulu and other sites being blocked, and Netflix offering less than it does in the States). She finds that although there is less selection, “I’m (legally) watching as much as I ever do.” She then looks at the alternate-content availability and delivery for four major Canadian channels: CTV, CBC, CityTV and Global, and lets us know some of the shows that are available and how conveniently they are available.
This is part of the future of TV content to some extent; whether it completely supplants regular TV depends on a lot of factors that I can’t predict (not just caps), but a lot of people are going to be making the choice Diane made. So the convenience of delivery and breadth of selection isn’t just going to be a thing that TV networks can leave to the side.
For now, most people are still in the habit of watching “live,” and networks are dependent on various things to keep a lot of us in that habit: one of the reasons networks have embraced Twitter is because, as Diane notes, Twitter leads to real-time discussions of episodes and creates pressure to be watching a show as it’s broadcast. But social media trends have a habit of not lasting very long, and whatever comes along after Twitter loses popularity could be a less real-time, more long-term type of thing. Even Twitter is hamstrung by the difference in time zones, where people from one region can’t discuss a big plot twist with their friends from another region. And so the next social media fad, whatever it is, could be less friendly to real-time television viewing, and more friendly to at-our-convenience viewing. Meaning the arguments for watching TV shows when they first air may not have much weight five years from now.