For years now, I’ve been watching slowly less and less TV. At least, watching less of it actually *on* my television. Before, say, in about 2003 or so, I used to watch just about everything I wanted to on TV–you didn’t use to have a whole lot of other choice. I mean, you could download every single episode of every single series you were keeping up with, one episode at a time, but it usually took for bloody ever, and often times they weren’t exactly of very decent quality. Plus, I was in college, and the college network had a nasty little habbit of randomly crapping out–sometimes for a couple hours at a time, so that made doing anything that required a constant net connection a little tiny bit challenging.
Flash forward 6 years or so. Now, with the growing popularity of torrenting technology, plus increasingly faster connections, downloading entire seasons of series becomes a whole lot easier–I’m downloading the first 7 seasons of CSI Miami as I write this. Add to that, you can pretty much pay I think it’s like $5 or so, if that, to somewhere like iTunes and have access to download entire seasons that way. And there’s still the old fashion method of downloading one episode at a time over your more traditional filesharing clients–Bear Share comes to mind–although many of the same issues of old usually pop their heads up when that’s tried. And, if that isn’t good enough and you want to keep things on the still semi-legal, many of the more popular shows are usually available online, streamed directly from the originating station/network’s website–for exactly free. Of course, if desperation sets in there’s always Youtube if nothing else.
So what’s the point? Lately, I’ve been keeping track of exactly how much actual TV I watch on TV, and the amount is really quite surprising. Consider it like this. At the moment, my TV’s turned off. It may stay turned off until 7:30 tonight, when the hockey game comes on. It may get turned on maybe an hour and a half earlier for local news, assuming I decide I can’t get just as much information online throughout the day. And it will probably be turned off again after tonight’s hockey game–unless my Leafs display their usual amount of suckitude, at which point it may be turned off halfway through said game. That routine will likely continue, until approximately April 5th or so, at which point the baseball season will start, and my TV will be on long enough to watch that. I don’t usually watch Star Trek, CSI, or any of my other shows on TV anymore, unless they happen to be on at someone else’s place while I’m over. I don’t watch American Idol, or So You Think You Can Dance, so I’m not missing a whole lot by not catching up on who got kicked/voted/bought off or whatever on those series. So really, my TV watching peaks at perhaps, at most, maybe 5 hours a week–all of it sports broadcasts you can’t download, or stream without usually paying for it anyway.
I was reading earlier this morning about the so-called TV tax hearings being held in Ottawa between the broadcasters and the cable companies. During yesterday’s hearings, CTV, one of Canada’s major broadcasting companies, escentially told the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that if cable companies don’t start paying for the privelege of transmitting their signals–which, roughly translated, means if we don’t start paying up for the privelege of receiving their signals, they will either start blocking US programming or pull their signals off any carriers who don’t want to pay for it. Which, to me, means I’ll lose my local news. Which I get online anyway. Hockey Night in Canada is streamed online, so if I have to, I can watch it there for far less than I’m paying for the privelege to watch it on a CBC channel as it is. Rogers and Bell Canada own two of the major broadcasting channels my sports programs show up on outside of HNIC–Sportsnet and TSN, respectively, so I doubt they’ll be pulling their own channels off the various networks. And, since I get my US programming fix via Torrents, directly from the originating US networks’ websites, or when I’m over at someone else’s place, I don’t miss much by having it blocked by CTV.
So what are we missing again? Broadcasters want compensation from the cable companies, who will take said compensation from us, for… exactly what? So we have the option to watch our local news on TV as opposed to getting it from any number of newspapers, either online or in paper copy? So we can watch the same shows on TV, occasionally interupted by commercials, that we can either buy from iTunes or download from Mininova without, or that we can watch with different commercials by tuning in the originating US network? If the choice is between that and paying more for the privelege of being able to watch the same, limited number of programs I actually still watch on TV, I see a cancelation in my not too distant future.