'TV is Broken'

Patrick Rhone, in one of my favorite tech pieces from 2012:

"Then, a commercial for The Secret World of Arrietty comes on.

“This! I want to watch this!”, Beatrix exclaims.

“We can’t honey. It’s not out yet. It’s just a commercial.”, I say. She seems more confused so I try an analogy.

“You know when we go to a movie theater, and they show you previews of movies that are not out yet before the real movie? It’s like that.”

“Oh.”, she resigns. Not sure she gets this but I think the television executives and I have finally worn down her curious resolve."

Like Patrick, we don't have cable TV at our house. Instead, we use a combination of Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus, and even Amazon Instant Video for the occasional rental. All of this is streamed through our PS3 and is relatively easy to deal with. It's certainly convenient, anyway.

Because of this setup, the only times we ever see commercials at home are when we're using the Hulu Plus service. If I could pay a few more bucks a month to get rid of those commercials too, I would do it in an instant. Not only for myself, but for Brendon. If he can grow up hardly ever seeing a TV commercial, I'd consider that a parenting success.

When visiting relatives from either side of our family, there tends to be a TV consantly on whether anybody's watching it or not, providing background noise at all times. Don't ask me why, that's just how it is. If I ever happen to glance at the TV during a commercial break, I'm always astounded and annoyed by the sheer bottom-of-the-barrel stupidity being shoved into my eyeballs. I honestly have no idea why or how people put up with it.

By contrast, our experience at home is like living in another, better world. Custom queues full of content that we have chosen for ourselves. Fantastic recommendation engines suggesting great content that we might not have otherwise found, almost like hearing about something cool via trusted word-of-mouth (which I believe to be the best kind of advertising). Convenient access to just about anything we'd ever be interested in watching. No need or temptation to flip through hundreds of pointless channels, hoping something decent will be on somewhere.

I've tried to sell my parents on such a setup, but alas, they cling to their old ways. Mom still likes to watch her evening reality shows and Dad has never minded the process of flipping channels a bunch until he finds something good. Both of them are inextricably hooked on the Food Network, which is always the most likely thing I'll see on their TV as soon as I walk in the door.

If that's what works for them, then that's great. As for me, I can't justify spending so much more money on a huge cable/satellite package that not only offers ~1000% more channels than I'm interested in, but is somehow still less convenient and can't even bother to advertise products in a way that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out.

No, I think I'll keep on living in the future. It's more comfortable here.