Friday, February 15, 2008

Let them watch YouTube

As preamble, I won't name names but I really have a friend who does not have cable at home and really does not watch TV at all, yet at the same time seems to be up on all the latest video news and events. I asked how she knew of such things if she didn't watch TV and the answer was simple: YouTube.

But the news is beginning to catch up to this story, but until recently I wondered how many people really knew about the switchover to digital TV service coming exactly a year from this week. The Washington Observer Reporter and the AP have a good writeup today on the options for viewers. While it should not impact most cable TV subscribers, anyone receiving terrestrial signals will soon find themselves trying to watch a lot of white noise. I just wonder given the region's older population and other factors whether this will have a bigger potential impact here vs. elsewhere. Think that isn't so? I know my mother only signed onto cable in the last year because she moved into a residence where I think it was required. I'm pretty sure she has not scratched the surface of the panoply of channels out there. Trust me, for many getting the daily number live at 7pm may be the primary use of the TV and for that you don't need cable as long as you get KDKA (or back in the day it was WTAE that literally hosted the state's daily number drawing).

It was not that long ago (OK, a couple decades but still.. see my musings on QUBE TV) that residents of the City of Pittsburgh didn't have any cable service whatsoever. Even that could impact the incidence of cable-tv viewership here. It's not cheap for many to have even basic cable service. I really would be interested in the stats on the number of local households with/without cable service. The issue of education and outreach could be a good topic to be taken up by the City of Pittsburgh's appointed Cable Communications Advisory Committee. I presume that web page has not been updated, according to it many of the members had terms that expired a couple months ago.

There are digital channels already in operation. According to wikipedia, all of the digital channels in operation in Pennsylvania are in the Pittsburgh market. Seems a big strange to me that we are the cutting edge in this case. Tune into one of those channels without a converter in to see the future of rabbit-ear antennas.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timely. The March issue of Atlantic has a story about just this topic--TV losing out to the Internet, or more precisely, advice on how TV can reinvent itself to survive.

Like your buddy, I've never had cable, and since I got back to the U.S. 7 weeks ago I've watched TV at home exactly twice, some of the Super Bowl and Letterman. I check in with Talking Points Memo and Crooks and Liars a couple of times every day and consequently get my fill of cable and network news clips.

Friday, February 15, 2008 10:48:00 PM  

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