Friday, July 22, 2011

I Love My ROKU--and TV will never be the same

For my birthday in January, my wife bought me that ROKU player. Plug and play into my TV like a DVD player that connects to my wireless and Voila! I get Netflix and other "channels" straight to my TV. Netflix Watch Now is available at the touch of a button. I can access a movie faster this way than if I had the actual DVD.

I just realized that the last time I watched regular television before this week was the Superbowl.

I did this week access my cable provider's ON-DEMAND feature to watch Torchwood: Miracle Day and Falling Skies. But only through ON-DEMAND. This is because I missed Torchwood when it started last weekend even though I really wanted to see it.

Why should I be tied to the TV at a very precise time? ON-DEMAND fixes that, however, the selection is way too limited, plus shows are only available for a limited time, like Falling Skies episodes are only available for a couple weeks or so. And extremely limited commercial interruptions, if any, so a show that would normally take a full hour to watch can be completed in about 45 minutes.

Now my Netflix Watch Now is like having the library of movies and TV that Bill Gates mentioned in that book of his, The Road Ahead, way back when. I get not only complete seasons of TV but complete television shows. It remembers where I leave off, even if it's in the middle of an episode. Thousands of movies are available, enough where I am never at a loss for something to watch.

No more pointless TV surfing--"What's on TV now?" Flipping channels for upwards of half an hour before you actually find something to watch. And then only settling for something that's on that you really don't want to watch in the first place.

I can get YouTube through my ROKU. movies (although they really break it up poorly with commercials--you wouldn't mind the commercials if they were more fluid or seamless).

I get PANDORA through the ROKU. I have a channel that can access just about any radio station that has an online feed. There's podcasts and net shows too. There's a classic movie and TV channel called Pub-D-Hub that is fantastic for old stuff. I can access the movies and audio files of most anything on Internet Archive ( And I like bad old movies, so I this is awesome.

I barely watch commercials anymore. So I realized, for shows like Falling Skies appearing on TNT, what is going to happen to these shows? In order for TNT to make and show, don't they need ad revenue? Here's a show I like and will watch but don't want to be tied down to a specific time. I absolutely hated that before ROKU. If I want to do something, I don't want to say that my show is on tonight and I can't. I want to watch it later, when I am available. I think that they will be adding more commercials soon to ON-DEMAND stuff, but that's ok. I will take the commercials if I can watch when I want.

Then there are other shows that I simply wait for Netflix now. They will get added eventually. There is no show that I am so dedicated to that I simply have to watch it now. So what about shows like CBS' Big Bang Theory or USA's Psych? Will they suffer in ratings because of this? Will they stop being made because of this?

Currently Big Bang Theory is not available through Watch Now--we rented the actual discs through Netflix. We heard from a friend that it was a good show, we started renting from disc one of season one, and we were hooked. We love it. We watched every disc available as quickly as we could. We tried to keep up with the new season as best we could--I think we managed to watch three weeks in a row. But then stuff happens. We missed one and then another, and pretty soon we kind of forgot. But if they were available now, we would probably watch in a heartbeat, even with commercials.

However, I ain't paying for single downloads through iTunes or HULU or something. And if I pay for single downloads or a monthly subscription fee, I don't want any commercials. And the worst part of that line of thinking is that I might be very limited in trying new shows.

It is changing. The pricing structure of television and cable is changing to where I see no cable in the future, only internet providers. Commercials are changing. Shows clinging to other shows for ratings like Thursday night lineups are changing. Besides live sports, I don't see what is going to be on TV anymore. Even TV news will have a structure where it is first available at 5 pm but you can start it at 5:06 if that is when you get home--no more missing the first top stories and having to wait until 5:30 or 6 to see it. Cable news shows will be first offered at a certain time but if you aren't available until half an hour later, you don't miss it.

I love my ROKU and haven't watched TV since. It's been seven months now. I haven't missed a thing but commercials. And I wouldn't say I've been missing them.

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