It’s truly a golden age of geek television.
Today’s television offers a rich assortment of shows for nerdy people like me. Whether its the charming cheerfulness of Supergirl, the hard science fiction of The Expanse, the ridiculous fun of Into the Badlands, or the dark brooding of Jessica Jones, modern TV has everything someone like me wants.
Of course, you can have too much of a good thing. Given the time pressures of modern life, not enough hours in the day exist for anyone to keep up with all this geeky goodness. Never mind trying to keep up with all the associated media surrounding today’s shows: comic book tie-ins, collectibles, games, and more.
Then there’s the chaff among the wheat. So many shows which try to appeal to a geekier audience means quality can vary wildly. Take, for example, Shadowhunters on the Freeform network. (Freeform is the newly renamed ABC Family, in case you didn’t know). Based on the YA series The Mortal Instruments, Shadowhunters comes across as a low-rent Buffy wannabe, without the sharp writing, competent acting, or humor.
Given the plethora of shows, good and bad, I love the way modern tech enables me to schedule my viewing around my needs. That takes some of the pressure off, and I’m sure I consume even more media than I would if I were forced to sit in front of the TV at specific times. And, sorry showrunners, but “live tweeting with the cast” is just not enough of a draw to make me want to follow live broadcast schedules.
The reason for the plethora of excellent content is competition for eyeballs. When three networks dominated the television landscape, you watched on their schedules, or you didn’t watch at all. VCRs were a band-aid solution, but not nearly as convenient as modern DVRs.
Today, everyone with access to a bunch of servers is diving into the content creation game. You’ve got terrific shows being produced by Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu Plus. Even Yahoo and Playstation Network is jumping into the market. The traditional networks are feeling the pressure, so we’re seeing more streaming availability from NBC, ABC, and CBS.
And now that premium services like HBO and Showtime generate huge fan bases for some of their shows, they’ve taken steps to make their shows available on a wider basis, with HBO Now only the most recent example.
The advent of modern DVRs and streaming services make keeping up with my favorite shows much easier, of course. But the sheer volume of content is overwhelming. Right now, my Dish Networks VIP722k DVR is 60% full now, and that’s with regular culling of shows. It may be time to add an external hard drive for additional storage.
Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video certainly help, since shows are stored on their servers. In fact, we’ve been using streaming services more frequently, though the Dish DVR still gets a pretty good workout. It won’t be long before you can easily craft an a personal TV network just for your own use, as long as you have a fast internet connection.
The cable and satellite services missed the boat by not offering a la carte services of their own. Some are taking baby steps, like Dish Networks streaming push with SlingTV. But all this may be too little, too late. And if the cable providers don’t adapt, they’ll go the way of record stores. I doubt consumers will mourn their passing.