The rise of internet streaming has made me wonder about something I’d like to explore today on the Htet Tayza blog. Will TVs become obsolete?
Cycle of technology
Once upon a time, the television was a standard feature in homes across the developed world. However the internet has changed the game, and TVs are disappearing from living rooms, family kitchens and bedrooms throughout the planet.
This is the cycle of technology; the idea that no technological innovation is permanent and every invention is eventually replaced by a better, more useful invention. Look at the commercial music industry. First we had vinyl records which were replaced by A-track tapes and CDS. However, a few decades on from the invention of the CD it too was replaced, this time by music downloads and today, the CD is classed as a relic of the 80s and 90s by a large plethora of modern society.
Disappearance of the TV
I would argue that the same thing is now happening to the television. However, I recently read an article on Wired that suggested that this is a good thing. It argued that ‘when the TV becomes obsolete, TV shows will enter their real golden era.’
It argued that streaming already has, and will continue to enhance the television experience. It used many points to make this case, but the point that caught my interest was the one that noted something I’ve already observed. The rise of streaming services such as Netflix has allowed traditional TV programming to “break with convention.”
We can look at the success of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black to make this point. This show has been heralded for its ability to break the rules that have long-governed Hollywood and promote actresses to stardom whose causes would never have been championed by traditionally-minded tinsel town execs.
A channel for every viewer
The piece noted that this will allow television to follow a trajectory that it’s already been charting for decades. Back when televisions were first invented, viewers could choose from one or two channels. The digitisation of TV technology in the 90s and 00s allowed providers to increase the number of channels they had the ability to offer consumers.
The rise of streaming has already allowed TV to travel further down this road and the ultimate example is YouTube. Hardly a traditional medium, YouTube has literally given internet users the means they need to view whatever they want, whenever they want, without limits.
Pushing the boundaries
Therefore, of course the TV will become obsolete. Every piece of technology that was once deemed ‘the future’ eventually recedes into the past, however I would argue that this is a good thing.
As TV dies, online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu will rise like the phoenix from the ashes to take its place. This will give studios the freedom they need to create highly original programming such as House of Cards and Trans Parent that push the boundaries of creativity set down by traditional media. The disappearance of the television will be the best thing that ever happened to TV.