Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Term Paper Abstract -- Jesse Papineau

Many statistics are widely disputed or potentially skewed, however there is little debate about the amount of American homes that have at least one television set in them – nearly 100%. A 2008 survey (taken by Internetworldstats.com) reported that 80.6% of American homes have access to a PC. While this means that 1 in 5 television watchers do not have a computer, this does not stop the ever-growing trend of moving “television” programs to the new one-stop hub that is a computer (and that is Web 2.0). Hulu, one of the most popular websites that offer streaming TV content, was created by effectively merging most of the content from NBC Universal and News Corp. (Fox's parent company) onto this one site. According to NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, “If we didn't do this, we knew someone else would.”

So what does this all mean for the future of television as we know it? While there are plenty of people who do most of their television viewing on their computers now, the majority of Americans will continue to own TV sets for years to come. While streaming websites can provide high quality sound and picture, they cannot come close to matching the highest resolution that can be found on many new high definition (HD) televisions. Experts in this field predict that in about a decade, 'Ultra HDTVs” will be able to deliver four to 16 times the resolution of current HDTV sets which will certainly give many consumers a reason to not solely use their computers to watch television.

However, Hulu (and other websites that provide streaming television) is not the only way for Americans to watch TV programs when not around an actual television set. Websites such as Amazon.com and iTunes' media store allow consumers to buy episodes of their favorite shows for a small fee (usually $1 - $5) right after they air so that they can watch them on-the-go (on a digital media player) or at home at their leisure. Just ten years ago, nobody would have dreamed that many Americans would actually prefer to watch television shows on a three inch screen, however that is the new reality that we're living in. My term paper will examine all the ways that Americans can watch television without actually watching television -- because why would you want to do that?


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