Stepping Away From Cable

On the first day of this course, a question was posed in a semi-rhetorical fashion: “If you’re not watching it on a TV, is it still a TV show?”. The answer, despite debate, has become accepted to be yes. At the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards, Netflix received 31 nominations and 7 awards (mostly technical and all un-aired), but still an accomplishment and acceptance of non-television based television programming. With the rise of more and more web-based television content, definitions and expectations are changing. This article on tech blog BGR posted on March 12, 2015 boasts the electric headline: “Netflix is winning the war against Cable TV”. This year’s Nielsen report shows that 2 out of every 5 households access a subscription-based video on demand service. After a quick google search, you can see that articles upon articles agreeing with this position are littering the internet, streaming services are overtaking traditional television consumption.

Dixon’s book, Streaming Movies, reads as a lament for the digitalization of the media industries. He writes that digital and streaming media are the wave of the future and there’s no arguing about that. While Dixon doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, he also makes it abundantly clear that celluloid was the truest form of film spectatorship. While I am not an expert on technological progression nor sociology, I do think Dixon and other media theorists underestimate Millennials and our nostalgia for the past. While celluloid film is losing prominence, and definitely dominance, it still is regarded by film buffs as the prime medium and won’t be forgotten. Systems are in place to preserve the longevity of foregone platforms even if it is as history and not commodity. If we look at the sales of Vinyl records in the 21st century, you can see that while sales are still far lower than in their prime, audiophiles and vintagophiles are still buying them. The same niche markets exist for film fans that currently are pushing music fans. While these items are losing their capitalistic and monetary viability, they are not losing their cultural viability.

The exception to this is the initial focus of Dixon’s book, traditional television through cable and broadcast. While screens have permeated our lives through television, and then mobile devices, laptops, etc, the traditional television model does need to stay in our lives. Books and Blu-rays are not going anywhere anytime soon, but television can survive without cable. That’s a simple fact. Combined with the fact that approval ratings of cable network providers and ISP’s are at an all time low in America, the people are willing to survive without cable. When other options are easier, cheaper, more convenient, and more accessible, why stick with an outdated and aggressively persecutive system?

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