Monday, July 25, 2011

A Brief History of Television Viewing

Hulu, Billed as Tomorrow’s TV, Looks Boxed In. (The New York Times, 7/24/2011)

Excerpt: For decades, people watched television one way: through a boxy contraption, tied to a schedule set by broadcasters. It was all supported by advertisers and beamed free over the airwaves.

As cable and satellite choices proliferated in the 1980s and 1990s, the business model changed: shows and channels were financed both by advertisers and subscribers. But the TV set and its TV Guide-era schedules still reigned. Not until 2006, when ABC became the first network to stream shows like “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” on the Internet, did television programming truly roam free. A year after that, Hulu began taking mainstream the idea of streaming on TV, computers and cellphones.

The first hint of television’s unbundling actually came back in the 1980s, when viewers snapped up videocassette recorders. For the first time, they could record shows and watch them when they wanted. Once that happened, there was no going back. VCRs paved the way for TiVo and DVD box sets

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