It’s an apt metaphor. When it comes to the traditional screen that families gather around, live television is competing against a growing array of self-selected content. Given the amount of high-quality shows idling in my DVR and on-demand queue, channel surfing for live television seems very last century. And our television is Web-enabled, so a vast treasure of other goodies awaits from Netflix, Hulu Plus and Apple TV.
(Our house is part of a rapidly growing trend: online viewing is up more than 46 percent in just the last year, according to the media buying firm Horizon Media. And as my colleague Bill Carter noted, live ratings for network programs have declined for 14 consecutive quarters, with audiences bolting in record numbers this spring.)
Outside of the professional football season or some breaking national news event, the television at our house has become uncoupled from the commercial-driven environment that drives the broadcast and cable business. We haven’t cut the cord so much as kinked it in a way that commercials rarely sneak through.
I continue to be a fan of (some) network television products; I just don’t consume them as they’re broadcast.
I’m part of the cult of “Community,” but I motor through several episodes on Hulu Plus when I am feeling the need to spend some quality time with Abed. I’m a frantic fan of “Modern Family,” but this season, fresh episodes were broadcast so sporadically that I just set the DVR to harvest the new ones. And sure, I like to get tucked in by Stephen Colbert, but I don’t go to bed until 1 a.m., so I make sure he is waiting for me in the virtual video library controlled by the remote on my night stand.
There used to be some intellectual cachet in sniffing that you didn’t watch television, but that time is past. Both premium and basic cable churn out so many remarkable goodies that can be recorded or consumed on demand — “Archer,” “Girls,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Killing” and “Louie,” to name...
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