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Watching TV is a completely different experience now than it was in the last golden age of television. The days when families would huddle around a square box spitting out a handful of channels full of scheduled content are long gone. Sadly.

The range of options available for couch potatoes keen on watching television is vast. As we found out when we centered our We Ask You discussion on all things related to the television viewing habits of the MakeUseOf readership.

TV Here, TV There, TV Everywhere

We asked you, How Do You Watch TV? There was a healthy debate centered around this question, with dozens of you seeing fit to detail your television viewing habits. The big takeaway from the discussion is that the number of options open to couch potatoes at this point in time is almost endless. So much so that a better question may have been, How Don’t You Watch TV?

watching-television-silhouette

Most people, it would seem, still have a television set in the main room of their home. However, most don’t use it exclusively, instead splitting their time between watching their large TV set and watching on any number of devices you care to mention.

As for sources of content, cable is still very much a thing, but a growing number of people have either cut the cord or would like to do so in the future. Besides that, people watch content from streaming media services 6 Of The Best Streaming Media Services Compared 6 Of The Best Streaming Media Services Compared Streaming media has become the way of the future for many consumers, and as a result there’s no shortage of services to pick from. Let’s compare five of the best streaming media services to see... Read More such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus, or from websites including YouTube Hate YouTube's New Layout? Try Out YouTube TV Instead Hate YouTube's New Layout? Try Out YouTube TV Instead Enjoy a streamlined version of YouTube that's usable from your couch and lets you follow the channels you love, easily. YouTube's TV version just might be the best way to use the web's best video... Read More and one of several YouTube alternatives 5 Video Sites That Are Alternatives to YouTube 5 Video Sites That Are Alternatives to YouTube Believe it or not there was a time when YouTube wasn't the daddy of all online video sites. It was instead merely just one of a number that was offering ordinary people the chance to... Read More , Dailymotion.

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And then there is online piracy What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? [You Told Us] What Should Be Done About Online Piracy? [You Told Us] Laws against piracy of copyrighted materials existed well before the invention of the Internet, but this interconnected network of computers has turned piracy into an immediate and unfortunate problem for copyright owners of all shapes... Read More , which, as expected, reared its ugly head during this debate. The line between legally sourced TV content and not-so-legally sourced TV content is slowly-but-surely being blurred out of existence.

People want to watch what they want, when they want, and without paying through the nose for doing so. If that means obtaining it for free by dubious methods then that’s exactly what people will do. And screw the consequences.

Comment Of The Week

We received a lot of great comments, including those from Likefunbutnot, Nonny Mouse, and Kimberly. Comment Of The Week goes to Xoandre, who wins a T-shirt for this comment How Do You Watch TV? [We Ask You] How Do You Watch TV? [We Ask You] How we watch television has changed dramatically. How do you watch your favorite shows? Read More :

When I was a child, I would get up every morning before school to watch Scooby Doo on my Granny’s 20? Color TV. I (and my siblings) would sit on our legs mere inches from the TV so we could not be blocked by other family members getting between us and the TV.
Later in life, I stared in shock when we went from 4 channels to 19 with Cox Cable. All that selection, all those shows – how would I ever be able to keep up with everything?
Then during High School and College, I recorded shows on a pair of VCR’s whenever I was in class or had to mow the 10-acre lawn with the push mower.
Over the years, as technology changed, I know many people burned their cash on DVD recorders, which were a flash in the pan as DVRs and Tivo took predominance.
The Super Bowl Janet Jackson event put Tivo on the map more than any other event in television history. And millions of people went out and sought DVR options less expensive than Tivo.
As more and more cable subscriptions became ever-more competitive, they began to have DVR’s as part of the cable box. Nowadays, the DVR is an integral part of television entertainment in most homes.
Most of my life, I have watched television alone. I’ve either been a bachelor or – once I was married – had completely different tastes or work schedules than my wife.
For a while I would watch TV live for important events, but eventually I got around to pre-recording (buffering) my shows and watching them later or on delay enough to skip most of the commercials.
Now that my divorce is complete, I am living on a far tighter budget and alone again. My television can only pick up the 3-4 stations the digital antenna gets, and I rarely watch TV at all.
Some shows I am able to stream on Netflix, and I have caught up with shows that either never aired in the USA, never aired entirely, or had absolutely no promotion, exposure, or conflicted with more important shows I used to watch.
Streaming to my 42? HDTV from my PC (via analog cable direct from my built-in PC graphics card), I am able to enjoy such rare gems as “the 4400? and mind-boggling flicks like “Mr. Nobody” as well as the classic missed episodes of “Justice League Unlimited” and others.
Through the years, technology has changed, life events took place, and I find myself staring – as I did when I was 8 – at a color TV mere inches from my face.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

We chose this comment because it details how an individual’s television viewing habits have changed over a long period of time and through a changing set of circumstances.

The conclusion, that “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” should remind us that while TV viewing has changed to an incredible degree over the years, it’s still, in essence, the same pastime it always has been. And probably always will be.

We Ask You is a weekly column in which you have your say about a particular subject. We ask you a question each week, with the results compiled and compressed into a follow-up article the following week. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: Al Ibrahim via Flickr

  1. Robyn McIntyre
    April 30, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Nice wrap up on this information.

    • Dave P
      April 30, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Thank you for saying that. Such niceties are rare on the Internetz these days.

  2. Xoandre
    April 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Oops... I did it again!

    ;)

    • Dave P
      April 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Is your wardrobe full of T-shirts yet?

  3. Shawn
    April 30, 2014 at 5:04 am

    I have a Mohu Leaf, Xubuntu & a VPN

  4. likefunbutnot
    April 30, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Speaking to the idea of piracy as a distribution method, more than one of the participants said the same thing I did, that the ideal would be the ability to directly contribute to fund the content we enjoy; one of the biggest problems related to this issue is that distribution models haven't caught up to the technical realities and desires of the viewership.

    Of course, even pretending that legal, direct contribution for download (the "Kickstarter Model") were an option on the table, it still might not meet the needs for those of us who presently pirate; I wouldn't accept onerous client access or rights management restrictions and I suspect I'm not the only person in that category; the pirated product would simply continue to be better on the basis of features, let alone price.

    I've been explaining to my family for several years that the things I'm doing right now are going to be entirely mainstream ideas for everybody in five or six years. We're finally, blessedly transitioning away from discs for content storage and ditching traditional TV services will be increasingly normal.

    I do think it would be a terrible mistake to transfer control of the "TV" experience to a single entity in the way that cable franchises and satellite services have been. We need to have an ecosystem of providers that are willing to work together, and companies like Netflix, Amazon and Apple (let alone Comcast, Verizon or AT&T), really should not be trusted or assumed to be the single source for content in the future, which is one of the biggest reasons I continue to be adamant about maintaining my own content library.

    Also, my online handle is always spelled with a lowercase "l."

    • Dave P
      April 30, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      You make some good points. I think the keyword here in terms of delivering content to consumers is "choice."

      I'll remember to begin your name with a lowercase I from now on. My apologies for the oversight.

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