TV on the Internet

BY NATE WHITNEY | MARCH 23, 2009 7:30 AM

We’re freaks for media.

We watch TV while we eat breakfast, listen to the radio on our drive to work or our iPod while we walk to class. We’re connected through Facebook, My Space, and Twitter. Some are more “in tune” than others, but overall, our society has become intertwined with technology, and the result is a world absolutely packed with readily accessible communication, information, and entertainment.

We’re also a nation (and a world) struggling to cut corners, slash costs, and hold up our collective financial pants. We continue to poke new holes in our belts and hope our suspenders don’t fail.
About six months ago, I ditched the dish. Seventy dollars a month just isn’t worth it when you’re home so little. My DVR likely kept me hanging on as long as I did, forming DirecTV’s programming around my schedule instead of vice versa, but the decision was made, and the cord cut. For someone who is constantly obsessing over the AP wire and the latest from Reuters, it seemed like a daunting task, but I’ve done it. And what’s more, I actually like it. I don’t need my TV.

I still get my hands on HD signal through a pair of rabbit ears (though that signal will be gone very soon) so I can enjoy “House,” “24,” and Jim Lehrer. But I’ve realized more and more that my LCD is mainly for gaming and movies, turned on when company comes over or I need to get my fix of Heat, North by Northwest, or Iron Man.

This weekend I took in a lot of basketball, as many did. But I only watched one game on a television. CBS’ online coverage of the entire NCAA Tournament is a godsend, allowing me to click back and forth from game to game at will. When one game became a blowout, I clicked my mouse, and a more entertaining contest was delivered to my screen. The “High Quality” feature using Microsoft’s Silverlight software actually gave me a poorer picture quality, as was also found to be the case by many other observers on comment boards over the weekend. But the standard stream of games gave me a nice look at how quickly my bracket was going to fall apart this year.

As newspapers move from daily printing to online-only versions, a parallel trend seems to be overtaking the entertainment industry. The few shows I regularly watch that aren’t news-based are all offered online, often the day they’re aired on television. Networks are putting almost all of their programming on the Internet, whether through Hulu, TV.com, or their own websites. I can even use my XBox 360’s Windows Media function to peruse NBC news’ field of reports and select whatever grabs my interest.

So what I’m wondering is how many years it will take before we ingest all of our entertainment and news through our computers. Is the boob tube ever-so-slowly going the way of the dinosaur, useful only for large groups of people and the occasional while-I-make-dinner baby-sitter?

While you ask yourself that, I’m going to log back on to CBS.com and watch the next tournament game.

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