Sometime last year my TV antenna fell down.
It was one of those nights when there was a wild storm with strong winds, and you go out the next morning to clean all the debris from your garden path before you can leave the house.
A few weeks later, someone commented on my TV antenna. “Is it supposed to point down into the house like that?” they asked sarcastically. I looked up and saw that the antenna was, indeed, pointing down into the house on a precarious angle.
The simple fact is, while it no longer offered optimum reception for our television, we simply hadn’t noticed. That’s not because we live in a suburb completely saturated with television signals, but rather we no longer watch free-to-air television. I tried to remember the last time I watched free-to-air, but couldn’t recall when, what program or what network.
In our house, we just don’t watch free-to-air TV any more. It has nothing to offer us. The shows are uninteresting, the programming schedule is incompatible with our Real Lifes, the commercials are full of nonsensical commercials and the on-air technical quality is frustratingly bad.
On the 6th of January Adam Turner wrote an article in Digital Life comparing two Personal Video Recorders: the Strong STR-7000 and the Topfield TRF-2470. Although Adam says they both function as handy media players, and can both play files from a USB stick, it got me wondering why anyone would want to record free-to-air in the first place.
This doesn’t mean we don’t watch television. On the contrary, we have a media centre PC and a Sony PlayStation 3 both connected to the television and the sound system. We watch BluRay discs, DVDs, and use streaming services like YouTube, ABC iView and SBS On Demand. Tech Talk compatriots Andrew and Leena have both been tempting me to install an Apple TV, and after seeing a demo in their respective living rooms, I’m genuinely tempted. The quality is great and we can pick and choose what we watch, when we watch, for a realistic price. Free-to-air TV just doesn’t offer this.
Anecdotally, I don’t think I’m alone. People are watching more and more content over the internet, at a time and place that suits them. People are also using mobile devices more and more to consume content. Andrew wrote an interesting article here quoting a Nielsen survey from 18 months ago. The survey found that just 46% of respondents watched video content on their television at home, at least once a day. This means more than half did not watch video content on their television at home each day. In fact, 28% had watched video less than once a week on their television at home.
I’ve decided that free-to-air TV is like everything else in this world: you get what you pay for.
In the meantime, my TV antenna is staying right where it is.