‘Internet TV and the move to the digital approach is quite revolutionary. TV has historically has been a broadcast medium with everybody picking from a very finite number of channels’ – Bill Gates
It’s a common topic of conversation at work or between my friends about whether you’re a film person or a TV person (or indeed, both) and for the last few years I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a TV vs Films post or a post abut how TV viewing has changed s much over recent times. Since COVID-19 I think it’s been widely agreed that watching TV can now be classed as a hobby, so I’ve decided to kind of combine the two original posts. Although I probably should stop talking about finishing a TV series and some kind of accomplishment.
It will come as no surprise to you that I’m 100% a TV girl. Always have been. I can binge watch 40 minute episodes of the same thing all day. But stick me in front of a film any longer than 90 minutes and I’m playing on my phone within the first 20 minutes. To further prove my point, here’s a brief list of ‘classic’ films I’ve never seen that always seems to raise alarm when I tell people:
The Lion King
Any of the Harry Potter Films
I mean, I feel like I’ve seen them all, because people talk about them so often or there’s always clips on them being shown, so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on much. But for films, it’s very much an attention span issue for me. Sure there are films I love; Mean Girls, Grease, Dangerous Minds and of course Space Jam I could watch on rotation every Sunday and not get bored. But something has to be really special for me to want to invest the time, or better still invest the money by going to the Cinema to see it. TV on the other hand, are brilliant little 1 hour movies that have their own beginning, middle and end, and make you want to keep on watching.
TV has become big business these days too. In the 80s and 90s, if a movie actor went into TV, it would been seen as a step backwards career wise. Like they were struggling for work. Now, thanks for shows like 24 which snagged Keifer Sutherland and The Following with Kevin Bacon, major movie actors are moving into TV and it’s giving their careers a second life.
Cinema going isn’t a big as it used to be thanks to increasing prices (honestly, it’s nearly £20 for both of us to go to the cinema these days and even then the experience isn’t all that great). And of course, now thanks to lockdown, no one set foot in a cinema for over 3 months. We went to see the last Star Wars movie the day it came out, at prime time at 6pm on release day and the cinema wasn’t full. That would have been unheard of 10 years ago. It’s no wonder movie actors are making the leap to TV
Which leads me nicely to how TV watching has changed, for me at least, in more recently times. Sure the introduction of DVR was revolutionary at the time, and I loved having a planner full of stuff I had on series link that I could watch at my leisure. How exciting was it coming back off holiday and catching up on 30 episodes of Love Island?! In the last year or so though, my TV watching habits have changed again in that we did away with Virgin Media and TeVo; mainly because they were a shower of bastards who kept on upping out bill with no extra benefits at all. We switched to a combination of an Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Prime Video and the Netflix.
The obvious cost difference aside (one off payment for the fire stick and roughly £15 a month in subscriptions) it’s meant some big changes to by viewing habits. It took me a long time to get used to not having anything saved handily in a planner, which means if I want to watch something I have to seek it out. On plus side, it means I only tend to watch the stuff I really want to, because if I don’t think about it, it’s probably not all that important to me. Like countless episodes of GPs Behind Closed Doors. It also means that if you decide to watch some TV live (like Love Island) you have to sit through adverts, because the option of letting it run for a bit on TeVo and zipping through the adverts isn’t there anymore.
Streaming services are getting wise to this as well and uploading the entire series of something at once to really tap into that binge watching culture. You no longer have to wait a week for the next episode of something. Similarly, you can probably do away with some of your old favourite DVD box sets too as all the best TV shows ever made; Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill and Greys Anatomy are all on Prime to revisit. That probably says more about my TV watching tastes though than anything else. Please don’t judge me.
All things considered I like this new style of TV watching, even though I still find myself searching out the odd episode of GPs Behind Closed Doors every now and then.