YouTube Killed The Television Gods

2010 marks a major shift in viewing trends among Americans that will most likely grow worldwide by the end of the 2010s to be a more dominant market share of leisure time.  Apparently, 2010 marked the first year that more people prized their Internet over their television.  Beyond a doubt, I'm in this camp.  My television hasn't been hooked up to cable in over a year and I don't miss it a bit.  I watch movies from Netflix and the library on the television; or now that Netflix has expanded its services; I can watch their "Watch Instantly" selection on my television through the use of my Wii.

So why the shift?  Convenience is an obvious answer.  Why situate my life around the TV to catch the programs I want; when I can call them up at will online.  Sure, there are devices (VCRs in the old days; Tivo nowadays) that can do this, but in both cases they require additional contraptions, costs, and programming.

But another answer that speaks volumes about what's going on, comes from Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus.  The 3 Stooges video below taken from YouTube (side note:  my favorite 3 Stooges skit of all time; I remember almost crying in hysterical laughter the first time I saw it),  is not the same 3 Stooges video that I've seen at least 3-4 times on the 3 Stooges Marathon held annually on New Year’s Eve (and no--there's no commenting on that facet of my life).

Ok, let's take the obvious difference; the quality in this instance is by far less than what you would see on television.  Ok.  TV: 1.  Internet: 0.  Yet, the quality has the potential to improve or on other sites be better than somebody's home recording; so not all is lost.  The other difference is convenience.  Inevitably, people reading this watched (if they watched it) the clip at very different times with variations of hours, days, months, possibly years.  That's definitely a point for Internet.  To add to that, if you watch it to the end or are watching it on the YouTube site; when you get to the end, you get like-minded and relevant recommendations; something that rarely occurs on TV.  I get to the end of a show, and besides an onslaught of commercials, I'm hit with a show or range of shows that have no consequential relation to what I just saw.

But one of the cooler things to come out of video sites is the level of interactivity.  I can share them directly and indirectly.  I can email the link to a friend; whereas I would have to call a friend to tell them to turn on the TV "right now."  OR I can post them to various social networking sites as part of my social history for current and future connections to enjoy and appreciate (or groan as the case may be).  I can (as I did here) embed them into my blog and other areas and in doing so, have some control over the size, border, and other material.  I can bookmark it for continued enjoyment.  But the most interesting is that I can comment on it.  I can have a dialogue with others who have viewed this.  This makes viewing much less a singular event and more of a social event or also an engaging event.  Just like when friends sit around to watch a movie (maybe a la MST3K style), the comments section of these videos allow for a asynchronous discussion that is sometimes irrelevant but can also impart answers and information people are wondering about with regards to the video.

To come back to my name-dropping of Clay Shirky, whom I've used in other posts, I think this is why the Internet is gaining ground; convenience + meaning making/engagement.  TV for many has been a one-way relationship that though enjoyable still limiting and unfulfilling in many regards.  After all, many of us sit down to watch TV to "tune out" of the world.  To put our minds on hold which just doesn't sound like actual contentedness, but distraction.  This offers the option of engagement which for some can mean substantially more.

So what does this mean for culture at large?  The fact that it's risen so fast also speaks to an improvement of access for many people which can be attributed to the cheapening of electronics from cellphones to laptops.  The convenience, engagement, and yes, the cost factor, all play an important role in influencing such trends.  There’s also the interesting dynamic that so many people are becoming more engaged with their entertainment and one wonders what media engagement/entertainment will look like in the future.


In what ways have your entertainment consumption changed over the last 10 years?  Do you find yourself participating in blogs, chats, comment features, Facebook debates with relation to your entertainment?  What does this do for meaning-making and significance of the entertainment being discussed?

What are other levels of engagement and meaning-making that are found throughout the Internet with regards to our entertainment?  How do we bridge gaps between ourselves, that which we enjoy, and other people?

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  1. Hi Lance-

    Noticed from LinkedIn that you review for ForeWord. Must all titles go thru Alex
    or can you suggest a title you want to review to him?

    Please email me directly at
    steffercat at austin dot rr dot com.

    Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist

  2. Something had to kill the television gods. The television killed the public's interests in books and other forms of entertainment. Now instead of enjoying time with the family or reading a book or comic, people rot there minds away with television. I believe there is more educational value in written texts then in television. Take comic books for example. Comics are played out like a movie in our minds as we read them. They also promote literacy among children and inspire kids to create their own comics. Children enjoyed the medium because of all the pictures and then fun stories they tell. Comics can use relate able characters to teach children history or important lessons. For example the graphic novel Maus written by Art Spiegelman depicts the events of the Holocaust using mice as the Jewish people as cats as the Nazi regime. Comics portray important messages but the way they are created is also interesting. In a television program the story is a flowing constant scene, while a comic book is separated into panels of different parts of the story. These juxtaposed images create the story as you follow the panels through the pages. The space between the panel is called the gutter and it separates the panels to depict time. The conclusion that a reader makes as they read one panel to the next is called closure. For example if a panel has a picture of superman with a fist closed and the next panel the man has a black eye, the reader would assume that superman punched the man. This closure helps the reader to move on with the story. Closure is also a part of television but is used in a different light. I believe we all should stop being so lazy and instead of picking up the clicker, pick up a comic book. You will be happy you made the choice.

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  4. I believe my entertainment consumption has changed in a number of ways as a result of being busy with activities such as school, work, and sports. Netflix and YouTube are becoming more popular now because it is convenient for everyone. It is lot easier to look up a movie online and have it right in front of you, than to go looking for a movie on television. As a result of Netflix and YouTube becoming more and more popular, regular cable is being left in the dust. Although the quality of Netflix and YouTube are not as high as television, I believe that in the future they will get it to be in high quality therefore, making cable a secondary source to entertainment.
    Netflix and YouTube are great sources of entertainment because it is easy to type in a movie or show that you can watch right away. It also is beneficiary when you want to watch only a clip of a movie because movies are cut down into them. All and all Netflix and YouTube will be the primary source of entertainment as soon as the quality improves. When this happens who knows where cable will be. Face book is another great source off the internet that people use to communicate with friends, family and even acquaintances. Over the years it has become more popular because it allows people to stay in contact with others when they are far away from each other. It also helps when people do not like to talk on the phone because people do not hesitate to send someone a message. Not to mention it is free.

  5. Nicolas Pasquale-RiveraOctober 13, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    The world is changing as a whole little by little each day. The entertainment business is making a killing off of websites such as YouTube, Netflix, and even Facebook. Devices that we buy, intended for possibly one purpose such as an iTouch includes features such as a web browser, and even a built in YouTube program that allows direct access to the full field of the website. It’s more uncommon to not have a Facebook nowadays rather than having one. Even the eldest family members have Facebooks to keep in touch with their family. In my opinion, this was a great website to come across, allowing access to view who married who, and even who purchased a new dog, will change the social life in the world forever. Even being a seventeen year old freshman in college, I can clearly see the change in society with all the new gadgets and accessories that the entertainment business is producing. Growing up, our talk in school included who said what to each other in the chat room last night, which was only about eight years ago, and in today’s world, someone’s mother can be on the webcam watching their every move. As beneficial the new technology is, it has its cons as well. I, along with many other people look forward in seeing what the entertainment business has in store for us next.

  6. Over the last ten years my entertainment consumption has changed in many, many ways. My consumption has changed in every way from the types of music that I listen to, to the types of television shows that I know either watch or listen to. I now find my self participating in blogs and facebook groups that have to do with the types of music and television shows I enjoy. By participating in blogs and facebook groups I have been able to expand upon the television and music groups that I enjoy. I believe that by participating in blogs, chats and facebook that it does a lot for the way of entertainment that is being discussed. It gives others who may only have one opinion about a cretin type of entertainment to see new ways. Also before we know it we will be able to watch television shows on line while talking a discussing our thoughts that we are having about the show we are watching with others who enjoy watching that same show. In the next few years who knows we might even be able to watch concerts online while they are live in other states or even other countries. I am guessing that before the year 2015 there will no longer be a need for a television, that people will just watching everything on line when they have the chance and that when it comes to concerts people wont be bumed when it is sold out and you cant get tickets because you will be able to watch them live on the internet.

  7. I think that as long as ways of entertainment continue to change as they are now, then the way in which people consume entertainment will continue to change as well. I remember as a kid we had the slow dial-up connection to the internet and it took 20 minutes just to hear the words "You've Got Mail!". You had to unplug the phone line and plug it into the computer and I think that was the single most annoying thing I could have done in my house to my parents. Now you click and bam! you're connected to Facebook, your email, You-tube, and any other website you want to be on. Its fast and convenient. You have everything you need right at your fingertips. So yes, my consumption and the ways in which I consume entertainment have definitely changed, mostly because of the convenience. When you miss your favorite show because you had to work, it makes it so easy to just pop on the Internet and watch it then. There are so many people connecting to this source of entertainment, its hard to not change your ways of consumption. I'm sure within my lifetime I will be exposed to plenty other forms of entertainment as the world continues to widen.


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