At work a few days ago my boss was talking about Tivo. He said his daughter doesn’t really know what it’s like to watch TV without Tivo. She’s pretty young, and they’ve apparently had it for a while. But they recently canceled their satellite subscription (and also their Tivo). He said that now, when his daughter is watching TV, she’ll try to fast forward through the commercials because she doesn’t know what “live” TV is.
This made me realize that time-shifting devices like Tivo are really great for consumers. Sure, you can skip commercials. But what seems more monumental to me is the seamless interaction between the “recording” and the “watching” of a TV show. Without Tivo, if you’re addicted to Alias, you must be home at 9pm on Wednesday nights. If you’re addicted to Arrested Development, you must be home at 8:30pm on Sunday nights. This is a bit of an inconvenience, don’t ya think?
With a time-shifting device, it doesn’t matter when a TV show comes on–you just tell Tivo to record it, and then watch it whenever you’re sitting trying to kill some time. This is a stepping stone to pure on-demand TV. This is a natural progression. We’re making technology work for us, instead of the other way around.
Another natural progression is the switch to digitally transmitted TV. The FCC has mandated that by 2007, all broadcast TV transmissions must be digital. Satellite signals are already digital (although, the output to your television may not be). And cable is slowly transitioning to digital cable. Eventually analog transmissions will be gone. There will be no more snow and no more static.
I intended to write a bit about the broadcast flag, but I need to go look at furniture.