Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The more things change...

There are two main ways to stream content: live and on-demand. You probably already knew that. If not, you just never took the time to think about it. But, it's really obvious once you ever do think about it.

In the old days, you could only watch something as it became available. A new episode of I Love Lucy or Star Trek or Cheers would be watched when the network aired it. Or you might watch the baseball game of the week as it happened. That was how you could watch TV.

Eventually, VCRs came available and you could record your soap operas for watching later. That meant there were two ways to watch TV.

Now, you're streaming. And, you can watch TV in one of those two ways. If you have a live streaming service, you can watch the latest episode of NCIS when it airs. This is like the traditional way of watching TV. If you have an on-demand service, you can watch last night's Grey's Anatomy or This Is Us, same as if you had recorded it.

Think about that for a minute. In the 1960s, you would watch live TV. In the 1980s, using a VCR, you could also watch last night's shows today.

Now, in 2022, you can subscribe to a live streaming service and watch live TV, or use the DVR feature, or the on-demand feature, and watch last night's shows today.

See the difference? The dates on the calendar changed. That's it.

Okay, that's not it. In the 1960s, you put up an antenna and watched whatever aired from your three or so local stations. In 2022, you can put up an antenna and watch whatever is airing from your 25+ local stations.

Okay, let me try something else. In 1980, you could use a VHS and record shows instead of arranging your plans around whatever was on cable. In 2022, you can use Hulu to watch last night's shows instead of arranging your plans around whatever is on live TV.

Hmmm. Still not much difference. The change is the method of watching TV, but not really the way we watch it. Instead of cable, we use an Internet connection to stream TV.

But is there really another way to watch TV? Not another method -- antenna, satellite, cable, streaming are simply methods of watching TV -- but a different way. I'm not sure there really is. Stuff is either happening right now, or it happened already. It's a TV, not a TARDIS. We really can't watch TV any other way. Or maybe we just haven't figured it out yet.

I prefer streaming to other ways, but I don't just stream. I have an antenna, and when I use the antenna, I'm doing the same thing in 2022 that I used to do in 1962. I'm watching live TV over the air from an antenna. There are a lot more channels, but it's still over the air free TV. I like free.

I also like streaming on-demand content. I can have a huge library of movies and TV shows without a bunch of VHS tapes taking up a room full. So, while my TV habits went from watching live in the 1960s, adding watching on-demand (VHS recordings) in the 1980s, to ... well, live and on-demand in 2022. I just have a lot more stuff from which to choose. And that's the real difference. That's what makes my Streaming Life enjoyable.

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