Television has been an indispensable part of our lives since its advent. Over the years, it has represented and fostered cultural values and social norms. From the feel-good dramas of the ’60s that presented escapist realities and whitewashed the cruelties of the world, to the modern dramas tackling taboo subjects and controversial opinions, television has surely changed.
From technology to content, TV seems to have evolved. A decade ago, asking someone whether they watch live TV would be considered absurd. Of course, they did!
In recent years, we have seen the rise of streaming giants which has had a huge impact not just on the TV industry but on the entire entertainment industry.
How have our TV viewing habits evolved over the years? How will they reflect on the future of the entertainment industry? Here is all you want to know.
The Era of Streaming Services
The rise in streaming services has reshaped the way an average American consumes content. In recent years, people have started making the shift to subscription-based streaming services like Netflix. This has caused a dip in TV cable sales.
A study by Deloitte reveals that 69% of consumers pay for streaming services over traditional cable TV. There are several motivations behind the shift. Streaming services are producing excellent-quality original content and using it to leverage consumers. This is not the case with cable TV which relies heavily on reruns of hit TV shows.
Furthermore, these services offer an ad-free experience that you can enjoy from the comfort of your phone wherever you are. The subscription-based business model sustains them without having to run advertisements that disrupt the viewing experience.
Cultural and Political Influence
In the ‘50s, television programming depicted the perfect American family and their seemingly problem-free life. There seemed to be optimism and tranquillity in the air. In the post-war era, people wanted to have a sense of security and peace which is what the media of the time represented.
The truth wasn’t as pleasant as the TV shows of the time. As pointed out by historian Stephanie Coontz, half of the two-parent black population were below the poverty line even though 60 percent of the rest of the US population was characterized as middle-class. Racial tensions were rampant and immigrants were being highly discriminated against.
Television in the ’70s started tackling issues that were at the time considered controversial like divorce, abortion, and single parenting. A growing appetite for social and political awareness during the ‘70s manifested itself in incredible TV shows that challenged the norm. Popular comedy show, Saturday Night Live (SNL), known for its political satire and parodies premiered in 1975 and has been on air since.
There is a deep-rooted connection between TV and culture. From premiering escapist sitcoms to becoming an instrument in raising socio-political awareness, TV media has come a long way.
The Content Has Evolved
There is a stark difference between how content was structured back in the day vs now. There used to be 22-24 episodes per season and the most shows went on for 8-10 seasons. This can’t be the case anymore, as that would compromise either the storyline
In comparison, networks now keep shows concise with 8-12 episodes per season. The focus is on keeping quality intact and retaining consumer focus.
An Event in Itself
TV choices and habits are now a topic of discussion that connect people and fuel conversations. Some TV shows have a huge influence on pop culture, which further increases viewer engagement. Shows like Euphoria dominate pop culture for covering sensitive topics like drug addiction and for the iconic fashion sense of the characters. The coming-of-age drama became a popular topic of conversation, almost like an event in itself.
Similarly, Game of Thrones used to be a wildly popular phenomenon that dominated conversation post its release. Viewers shared opinions on the actions of the characters as the story progressed. Not to forget, the amazing memes that flooded the social media space.
Furthermore, Netflix now offers a ‘Netflix party’ option, which allows you to watch shows with your friends online and share conversations simultaneously via chat.
In a Nutshell
Change is constant in the dynamic entertainment industry. Our TV viewing habits have evolved, which presents the TV industry with new challenges to tackle and avenues to explore.
There has been a sharp decline in cable TV sales. For entertainment, the population seems to lean toward streaming services. As per statistics, only two-thirds of American families still have cable TV.
Streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. have one thing in common. They put customer preference first resulting in the widespread shift to online streaming. Perhaps, the TV industry can take a hint and follow their example.