So Many Screens, And So Little Time To Watch

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While sitting on a couch and gazing at a 50-inch TV remains a popular pastime in America, smaller screens have also edged their way into our lives. Phones, tablets and video game devices crowd pockets and coffee tables, offering access to what used to be called "TV," at any time of the day.

The change in our viewing habits means that many dens are littered with wires and cables that put everything from HD-quality video to grainy YouTube clips at our fingertips. And the new technology can also bring both excitement and frustration, as television critic Eric Deggans of The Tampa Bay Times tells Morning Edition's David Greene.

Like many Americans, Deggans has a DVR to allow him to record programs. As for the rest of his setup, here's how he describes it:

"I have a Blu-Ray disc player that also can wirelessly access different video resources, so I can get Amazon on demand or Netflix through that. I have Apple TV hooked up, and I use that to access media that's on my iMac computer, and also to access Netflix and Hulu Plus, and some of these online video services."

The result is a wealth of choices and a wide range of quality, Deggans says. The wide range of options are the basis for our series, How We Watch What We Watch.


Interview Highlights

On mobility as a fundamental change in TV viewing

"This phenomenon — what I call 'on demand attitude' — where I feel like consumers, increasingly, are used to having media at their beck and call. You know, when you can carry a smartphone on your hip that can access Netflix, can access YouTube, can access all these video services — has movies, you know, saved on its own memory — then you get used to having media travel with you and find you wherever you are."

On viewers' satisfaction

"I think people's expectations rise with the technology that's available to them. So while a lot of people, I think, are aware of all the things that are available to them, there's still some frustration, you know. You're still paying a fair amount for cable. It still takes a little while for movies to make it from the theater to the cable box or to Netflix. Netflix doesn't have the most well-rounded selection of movies and TV shows that you might want, and selections kind of drop in and drop out depending on what kind of agreements they have with these ... program providers.

"So there's a lot of frustration that people still have with the system even though they have way more material available to them now than they had even five years ago."

On the ideal type of viewing experience

"One of the things that I'm very interested in is this idea of marrying what happens on the second screen with what happens on the original screen. I was watching a Blu-Ray of The Avengers and one of the features is that you can sync up your smartphone to the Blu-Ray so that as the movie plays, content comes up on your second screen that's additional information. You can see information on where they filmed something or why they wrote something a certain way. It's sort of a way of having those director's cuts, you know, where the director talks about what they've done in the movie, but except you have it on your smartphone."

"And I predict that that's going to happen a lot more and it's going to happen a lot more with live events. And you'll be able to see additional information, which will add to the experience that you're already having watching that main screen. Because the main idea is to drive you to that place where the TV outlets make the most money on you, and right now it's still those traditional TV channels."

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

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