14:15 25 January 2018
Almost every aspect of life has changed fairly dramatically in the past 20 years. Primarily, the internet has allowed digital technologies to enhance at an astronomic rate, which has fed into almost everything else that fills our lives. Working lives have been revolutionised – startups and working from home is more accessible, and jobs involving social media have sprung up. Even getting around has changed – the use of mobile phones has made sure we are constantly connected to everything, and electric and driverless cars look to change how we move about both locally and nationally. But one of the most surprising things to change is television. Once thought to be a pillar of constancy, TV has now been left a shell of what it was before. Figures from 2017 show that viewers watch TV less than 2 hours per day, a steep drop of 43.6% for millennials since 2012. But why – and are the millennials really to blame?
Twitch, a game streaming device that boasts 45 million views per month and nearly 300 billion minutes of content viewed over the course of a year, held a tournament for the popular online multiplayer game, Overwatch. More than 400,000 viewers tuned into Twitch for the first day of the Overwatch League – a record amount that surpassed the viewing figures received by some mainstream TV channels. The massive turnout shows that how we consume media has changed. Instead of being a world of sitting alone, gaming is a social network that attracts spectators and players, luring them away from traditional TV by offering the immersive environment that streaming affords.
The move over to watching people game isn’t the only symptom of the surprising demise of television. Netflix, originally started in 1997 to mail out DVDs, changed strategy in 2011, created their own content from 2013, and now dominates how something is viewed. Popular TV show Friends 1994-2004 was recently added to British Netflix, and joined the PR cycle, receiving much chatter on social media. The programme also airs on British TV daily. The updraft of viewers for the streaming platform shows that people prefer it to traditional means and that they will choose to watch it even while shows they clearly care more about are on traditional TV.
But multiplayer gaming isn’t the only gaming segment that is stealing away viewers from more traditional methods. Poker has also revolutionized how the games are played, when online casino brands such as Betway added live casino poker as an option for online gaming, a development that brings the newest live streaming technology to the game. Those interested in the forefront of technology will be eager to see how the live streaming works, which allows players to play online poker with real dealers utilizing the webcam. Changing habits for both online casino and online gaming show millennials prefer a more connected experience than sitting alone watching TV allows.
Yet, TV is doing fine, depending on how you class TV. The standard television, taken to mean the black box that corresponds to satellites and aerials may itself be floundering among a younger demographic. Statistics for an older audience show no change. Some may have moved over to streaming, most enjoy the ritual, the advert breaks, and the slow burn of a weekly episodic series. Millennials may prefer to hook up to an internet connection and stream the TV shows that the platform provides for them, rather than channel hopping, but that doesn’t necessarily call for the funeral of the television.
The medium of hourly and half-hourly programming is doing better than ever, eclipsing film as the go-to in entertainment. Hordes of A-list film actors: Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, etc. are moving over to TV, albeit Netflix original programming. But, just because the way we watch TV has changed, doesn’t mean that anything has to be lost. Print journalism has long been dying out, yet digital alternatives and social media sharing of news is booming, showing that people still care about current events and dissemination of information. Part of living in an evolving society is about modifying how things are done. The landline isn’t used as much anymore but that doesn’t mean the number of phone calls and aural connectivity has decreased.
Part of the drive for streaming services is to reduce the cluttered noise we encounter. Streaming – of which there are many apps that supersede merely just Netflix - allows users to immediately choose what they like to do and get on with it, without having to wait or be subjected to too much of what would be considered noise. Perhaps the millennials, with their different outlook on life, prefer the clutter-free aspects that streaming allows over traditional TV.
Streaming services have changed how we consume media in the modern day. We want things faster, we don’t want to wait, and we want to talk about what we have seen. The internet has allowed us to be ever more connected and, as such, almost everything will follow suit and allow for connectivity. Just look at the apps that allow you to share personal progress with fitness and healthy eating, something that traditional pen and paper methods would never have done. Television has had a change. Some millennials have moved over solely to streaming devices but, like with physical books over electronic equivalents, there will always be enough people to keep traditional TV afloat. In the distant future, it may not be as powerful due to the clutter-free streaming services, but it will always be there.
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