As a child who grew up with TV, I can confidently forecast TV may well beat me and many other Boomers to the grave. Trends are often the consequence of everyday decisions by people like you and me. If we pay close attention, we can see exactly where they lead.
I am told as a toddler I bounced with Howdy Doody in front of our black and white console TV. I lived through the times when watching TV was a privilege you earned and lost, and some weekly programs were a family event. These were the days when TV was young, confident and winning our attention.
Let’s fast-forward now to TV’s geriatric years. This week both HBO and CBS announced new streaming services. Cable companies will be in trouble until they can redesign their business models to absorb lost programming revenue and rely on their capabilities as high-speed Internet providers.
Serious scholars have and will analyze these forces of change in TV, cable, technology and lifestyle choices. I want to focus now on our everyday decisions and challenge you to notice the ways you help create these future trends.
I’ve always been more of a reader than a TV watcher. I owe most of what I know about popular television shows to TV critic reviews. I love this line one critic who recaps popular programs uses: we watch so you don’t have to. Time is a precious resource.
As working parents who valued “quality time” with our children, we rarely got to TV much before the brain dead hour when all you want is to relax a few minutes before bed. Weekend evenings were slightly less hectic and nights out were too expensive. Blockbuster and later Netflix rescued all those date nights from blah TV programming. We left our parenting years caring more about what Netflix had to offer than what the networks might offer in their new season.
We moved to livestreaming when economics and technology made it the smart choice. Like many American consumers, we were fully annoyed by our cable company’s insistence on charging us too much money for things we did not want. Did they completely miss the trends of choice and personalization?
The only golden handcuffs keeping us locked into ridiculous packages is sports. This is no secret to corporate decision makers, so expect some miserable years ahead while they try to keep those cuffs locked tight around access to the teams we love to watch.
When we bought a second home in the mountains four years ago, we seized the latest solutions technology offered. We installed Internet-only cable service, a Google TV, and our Slingbox account. If we had to buy cable programming to watch sports, we would only do it once in our first home and sling the programs more than 200 miles to our second home. With the advent of “watch on any device” services, our cable company gave in and now makes this even easier to do.
You don’t have to be an early adopter to create a trend. I am not. I am just an everyday person pursuing my interests. However, I do notice how my decisions accumulate into trends suggesting a pattern of change. If you analyze the changes you make in your life, you too will begin to notice trends as they emerge. Then check your experience against the decisions of others and see if your choices do fit into a larger pattern of change. Often they do.
Notice the trend, analyze its source and validate its scope and rate of change through evidence. That’s all it takes to spot and interpret trends you are helping create everyday.