NPR : News

How We Watch What We Watch: The Future Of TV

Television, the ever-present babysitter, the companion that asks nothing of you, is changing. It is changing because we're asking questions of it, and making new demands about how we watch TV, and even what we consider to be "TV."

No longer is the prime concern how big your TV should be, or what furniture should point at it. For some, the box isn't even the first place they go when they want to be entertained, for we now truly live in the multi-screen age.

The rise of the smartphone, the tablet computer, Netflix, and other on-demand services has changed the screen/viewer relationship forever. Also, we shouldn't forget the importance of that increasingly antiquated invention called the "Internet."

With each year (and in some cases, each month), the ability to watch things on different platforms at your own convenience moves from the producers' scheduling to the consumers' whims and desires.

To take my own habits as an example, this week I've downloaded two movies to watch, rather than settling for the fare that cable had to offer. I got lost in the rabbit hole that is YouTube, searching for Linda Ronstadt concerts circa 1976. Why network television doesn't rerun those in primetime, I'll never know.

The number of Americans who are now multi-screeners is growing every year. According to Nielsen's television ratings, nearly 36 million people watch video on their phones in the U.S.

TV audiences' habits are changing, and that's why we're examining "How we watch, what we watch" on Morning Edition all this week.

We'll explore where your favorite sports, drama, comedy and music are available — and whether the quality of what you can get away from your TV is actually any good. We'll also look at how TV networks and cable companies are reacting to this changing marketplace and what that means for you, the consumer.

So if you find the ever-growing list of options and choices bewildering, tune in this week and read more here at npr.org. Or in keeping with the theme, catch up later on your computer, smartphone, tablet, video-game console browser, etc.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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