Thursday, 9 December 2010

WEB207 - Topic 1.1 - Television

Time-shifting has changed the way I and my family watch TV - I have most of the shows I regularly watch setup to record on FoxtelIQ with the "Series Link" option on, which lets you set-and-forget (digressing slightly, but if you're interested in my recent input to improving "Series Link" please click here), or I download what isn't being shown here yet.  I rarely watch a "live" show any more, although my husband watches a lot of sport live - but even then, he rewinds the exciting bits if and when he feels like it.  But then I look at my Dad and grandmother and it has had very little impact on them.  My grandmother has only just figured out how to record on her VCR and my father still hasn't mastered it!  What has changed is the "watercooler talk", but that isn't entirely due to time-shifting - pay TV and the increased number of available channels has also contributed.  My Dad still has his 4 channels but nowadays when he tells me about a show he watched last night, I either haven't seen it at all, or haven't had time to watch it via the IQ yet.

I think sporting events and certain popular shows are still best to watch live.  In the case of sport it's partly because it's still very difficult to download a sporting event after the fact, and almost impossible to find a free live stream online.  I'm sure this is again a corporate notion, but it's painful.  I remember being in the US in 2008 when Buddy Franklin was due to kick his 100th goal for the season in the AFL, and frantically Googling all over the place trying to find a live stream of the game so I could watch it.  Granted, the actual goal was up on YouTube shortly after so I could watch a replay, but it wasn't the same as watching it live and in the context of the whole game.

As for popular shows - I remember Tama signing off Twitter when the Lost season 6 finale was shown in the US, until it was shown in Western Australia!  Simultaneous broadcasting would certainly be an awesome thing in cases like that. :>

I don't really think that "overflow" has a vast impact on a TV show right now, and because it doesn't happen with every show it's more like an "added bonus" thing.  It's also difficult for Australian's to participate due to the "tyranny of digital distance", as illustrated in the Leaver (2008) reading, because most of these shows aren't shown straight away in Australia and therefore any online participation would happen well after the fact.  This is partly why I downloaded episodes of Heroes for several years, so I could participate in the online stuff that went with the show.  However, I watched all 6 seasons of Lost this year and only really utilised the Lost Wiki to try to understand some of the things that had happened that I was losing track of along the way, so I wouldn't say it's imperative to either have the "overflow", or to utilise it.

I wrote a Blackboard post outlining some of the reasons that the commercial networks in Australia do not simultaneously broadcast shows directly from the US.  Last week I was talking to a TV station manager at a Christmas party  and told him what we've been studying this week.  He said that yes, it's all about commercial reality, and that when new ideas crop up they ask 2 questions - "Can we?" and "Should we?".  The first generally relates to the technology and is usually "yes" and the second relates to commercial reality and is often "no", at least initially, because if there's no money in it then it's not worth doing.  But he also said that they are now being forced to do a lot of new things by the federal government, all the new digital channels, plus anti-siphoning laws, etc.  He didn't mention the NBN but I imagine that will have an impact too.  So I don't really know when all this will happen, but I think it's definitely "when" and not "if".

Cheers,
Nicky
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