Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Changing Media Consumption Habits


This weekend, my husband and I went down to the venerable Apple store and purchased an Apple TV box. It's this teeny tiny little thing, maybe 4" x 4" x 1" (roughly the size of a gift box for a bracelet), with a few outlets in the back. It came with the world's smalled remote (about as long as my watch).

We had been kicking around the idea of buying an Apple TV setup for over a year, holding out because for a long while, our favorite show, Mysteries at the Museum, was not available on any of the services you can view on Apple TV. Now it is.

And so, we're bidding adieu to DirecTV. Don't get me wrong, DirecTV has been fantastic with customer support and the offerings on even their smallest and most basic packages. I switched to them four years ago when I finally got sick of Comcast taking channels away from me and then pretending I shouldn't have had them in the first place. (You try being a political junkie with NO NEWS CHANNELS during an election year.)

However, DirecTV costs a significant amount of money each month, and as I'm focusing on spending my money on other things, it only made sense to switch. The Apple TV box costs $99 (plus tax) and for $7.99 per month I can get a subscription to Netflix. That sure beats the $80ish I pay now.

What's interesting about the switch is that it makes me realize just how much media consumption is changing. When I was a kid, you flipped the channels until you found something you wanted to watch, took bathroom breaks during commercials, and if nothing was on, you went outside or read a book or called a friend. If a show was on Tuesdays at 8:00 pm, you made sure to turn on the TV at that time. And we all watched shows at the same times.

In the past few years, I've gotten used to DVR. I fast forward through commercials, tell the TV what I feel like watching, and then watch it when I feel like it. I didn't watch the DNC or RNC speeches live; I read the reviews of the speeches and then watched the ones I thought were worth watching on YouTube.

When I told my father-in-law about our move to AppleTV, he asked, "How are you going to watch the local news?" I haven't watched the local news since.... ever. Okay, I'll watch it if it's on at the gym, or if I'm at my father-in-law's house and he's watching it, but basically, I don't consume local news on television. I read news online, get it from Twitter, or listen to the local NPR station on my iPhone app.

My father loves to tell the story of how, when I was very young, the only television I could watch was Sesame Street, and so I developed the idea that Sesame Street came on whenever you turned on the television. I was very upset when my dad said I couldn't watch Sesame Street after dinner, because I thought he was just saying no, when what he meant was, Sesame Street isn't on television at that time. Today, he just pulls up YouTube to watch Grover and Elmo with my nephew, whenever my nephew wants to watch Sesame Street.

Television is everywhere today, and it can be consumed in so many ways: streaming, subscription, DVR, DVD, BluRay, mobile... and who knows what will come next. How have you changed your media consumption habits?