The Golden Age of Internet and Television

Remember the days when watching TV was associated with a looming guilt? 'Mumma-Papa are not home yet, let's steal some minutes of TV' - I bet I was not the only one to get such cheap thrills back in the late 90s. "Go play outside" they'd say. We were frequently reminded of the idea that watching TV is a lazy and time-wasting investment. We tend to associate with that idea time and again, when we say we 'binge-watched' something! As if to say that we have something better to do with our lives.

And to be realistic, they were correct. We did have better things to do than to watch TV. If you ask me, the last time we were glued to a TV set, it was when we had 'Hum Paanch', 'Sarabhai vs Sarabhai', 'Dekh Bhai Dekh', 'Office Office', 'Disney Hour', 'Small Wonder' and 'F.R.I.E.N.D.S' among many others. And then suddenly, the idiot box got corrupted with scripted soap operas that focused less on the script and more on Numerology and Vastu. Not long ago, the only reason I had the TV was to watch cricket and watch the news while I eat a mundane dinner. Rarely, movies too.

And then, if you turned out to be like me - a self-proclaimed TV connoisseur - Tony Soprano died (or did he?) to the tune of "Don't Stop Believing" and the world of TV watching changed forever. Albeit it had already changed in America, it took it's sweet time in India.

After groundbreaking HBO productions like The Sopranos and The Wire and BBC's Sherlock and Doctor Who, television reached a level of quality that has only been growing. HBO has come a long long way with Girls, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver deserving special mention. We've even seen a surge of quality TV series once again as AMC (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead), Showtime (Homeland, Dexter), ABC (Nashville, Modern Family) and more recently, the USA Network (Mr. Robot) are following on the path set by HBO. As Mark Lawson, in his article in The Guardian says, much like the American Indie movie scene in comparison with Hollywood, these subscription channels have carved a niche in an otherwise HBO dominated market. Television became more uncensored and real - allowing subject matter, language and action that traditional studios would have cut.

Viewership, once passive, has become an increasingly active experience. With the advent of social media, TV watching has become entangled into a form of reciprocal interaction between the viewers and the show creators. Showrunners have started to give increasing credit to plotlines suggested by the fans, they have started awarding fan theories and their viewing investments by placing what we call the hidden Easter eggs. Televisions have become one with our culture. Few days back, one of my distant cousins who's still in high school, referred to one of his friends as Jon Snow over the phone. When asked, he said offhandedly, that Jon was not so good at answering questions in class when he's called upon!

Mind blown? "You (really) know nothing, Jon Snow!"

Something flexible, and albeit technical, is at work as we speak. In fact it had begun a few years ago in the West and is now resurgent at a much more global scale. The advent of ancillary devices for the idiot box has given the control back to us - DVR, Cable box, Dish TV, Set-top box, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation, XBox, Roku and Wii are proving to be successful in the developed countries with established network of LTE and faster Broadband internet.

Not only have the intellectual properties of television gotten better, the whole experience of watching it has improved a lot as well! The non-linear viewing experience frees us to revisit our favorite TV shows at a time set by our own convenience. No more sitting on the couch for hours. You can now catch up with the last season of Castle on your way to work! The change began with the DVR and accelerated with streaming services such as the ones mentioned above.

The coming of internet streaming services like Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu and Amazon have further changed the whole idea of watching television. Unless you're living in a cave or you are Quentin Tarantino, now we can watch one episode or an entire season of our favorite series in our downtime. We can watch multiple episodes on a long haul international flight or while in the car, riding shotgun of course, on your way back home or at that boring party of your mother's sister's cousin's father's son-in-law's someone. Netflix productions are a rage now, on par with those of HBO! My personal favorites 'House of Cards', 'Narcos' and the latest collaboration with comic-book giant Marvel's (this one only shows the various possibilities streaming services have opened up) 'Daredevil'.

Back in India, we now have shows like 'Pitchers' and 'Permanent Roommates' that are not only a good reflection of social life in the country, but is also influencing the way we think. Then, there's that new satire news show that the AIB is coming up, in alliance with Star Network. This only goes on to show how television is getting more and more interesting and from being an idiot box, it is now resurgent as the quick shortcut to socio-cultural know-how!

Various cities in India now have LTE and high-speed internet has become a regular thing in every home, which fuels the promises of home-grown streaming, recording and video On Demand services. And sure enough, TATA Sky+ have declared the launch of their new product the TATA Sky+ Transfer that should help you catch up with all the television you missed and in whichever device you want to. Guilt free! It would also probably let you stay in sync with all the upcoming excitement of the Indian Super League! Right? Because while talking about television, I totally forgot to mention sports! How would you like to watch the late night editions of the English Premier League without blowing a hole into your circadian hours? (Or, if you're a true believer like me, you can watch it on the same day, on your own personal device and let your grandmother sleep better in the next room, without disturbing her much with the noise sound of the TV)!

The Golden Age of Television is upon us... again! Where are you going to be?

This post was written for the Indiblogger contest under the topic #TATASkyTransfer
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