Monday, January 4, 2016

What To Watch, How To Watch It

Remember the good old days when channel surfing meant hitting channel up or down on your remote and quickly seeing what was on each channel.  Stay a few seconds to watch and decide to commit or move on to the next network.  And when there were only 30 or so channels, the process didn't take too long as you quickly moved through the cycle and back to the beginning.  The rise of cable allowed for more choices and the process took longer but you also had more options.  But as the technology moved from analog to digital, the latency rate to access each channel got longer.  Switching channels was no longer instantaneous; it now took a couple seconds for each channel to pop up.  And channel surfing became a lost art.

But the rise of digital cable also brought a more extensive cable guide with title and description.  We now hit page up or page down to view the multitude of channel data.  A title was all we really had to go on.  And so familiarity with the title was all we could use to decide whether to press it or not.  We now have OTT devices like Apple TV or Chromecast or Amazon Fire or XBox to connect to our TV set input and add to our possible choices.  And that enabled another selection of programming from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Crackle, and more.    Surfing is now completely out of the picture.

It feels as if we have almost unlimited choice from linear, on demand, and streaming platforms.  We also have more flexibility where we watch, on the HD set, the iPad or tablet, or iPhone or other smartphone.  But what do we watch and where do we watch it?  Has the overwhelming choice of video content led to overload?  Will we continue to binge non-stop or hold up our hands and say "It's too much, I give up."  Most likely not but sometimes the better choice might just be a good book.

And when we do decide to watch something what do we do first.  How do we pick anymore across multiple input clicks and multiple screens within each platform?  Do we pick something new or find an old reliable show that always entertains, almost like comfort food?  Surfing is unwieldy, choice of content is so spread out that finding what is new or interesting or recommended is not yet easy to do.  It is a huge problem in search of a viable solution. 

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