TV Is Not Broken, Our Expectations Are

This post refers to

Patrick Rhone:

Now, we don’t watch what someone my age would consider a traditional television at home. We do own one — a 15 year old CRT model that resides in our third floor office loft. That said it is very rarely turned on. We don’t subscribe to Cable TV. It is connected to a not much newer DVD player. The digital converter and antenna we have for it have not been hooked up for a couple of years. Beatrix will occasionally remember it when we are up there and shove a DVD in the player to watch. That is the extent of its use.


“Can I choose?”, Beatrix asks. She’s still confused. She thinks this is like home where one can choose from a selection of things to watch. A well organized list of suggestions and options with clear box cover shots of all of her favorites. I have to explain again that it does not work that way on television. That we have to watch whatever is on and, if there is nothing you want to watch that is on then you just have to turn it off. Which we do.

Rhone’s entire piece is about how his daughter doesn’t understand traditional television, and then insinuating that because she doesn’t, the system is broken. This reminds me of when Morgan Sporlock made Super Size Me, a guy who ate incredibly healthy and just started eating McDonald’s for every meal, and couldn’t handle it. It’s a big ‘duh’.

Obviously if you teach people in the ways of “on-demand”, “have to have it now” ways of the world, that is how they will always expect it to be. I am not trying to suggest that Rhone has done any bad parenting here, I just think this shows how much our society has changed. People are being raised to expect things on their terms, all the time.

The TV system isn’t as broken as people make it out to be. The thing people forget is that the model of commercials and schedules and premium channels is how the television networks promote their shows and make money. If HBO just starts giving away content without a cable subscription, they would lose money and not be able to make the content people want to pay to see.

Look at what has happened to the airline industry. There was a race to the bottom in prices, and now flying is a miserable experience.