Televisions (TVs) Are Quaint & Obsolete: They’re Just Screens


I have been making the case that cable TV has been obsolete for a long time. The notion of a dumb pipe is over / has already been disrupted and it is arrogant of an industry that you need to view content on their timetable when it is easily made available on-demand.

Timeshifting is the new default and it is user hostile to force people to view things in a way you deem fit, especially when consumers are willing to pay for an experience that they prefer.

With this, any new TV is not a “TV” at all in the traditional sense. It is just a screen. At what point does it become a TV, when TV itself is not even used anymore except by those who are technology illiterate? There are also no more “TV shows.” It’s just content, perhaps only still seen as a TV show to aging studio execs and their cohorts. Their house of cards is crumbling down (pun intended).

Which is why when I saw this recent graphic from the WSJ, it irked me (as it should you):

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 11.30.01 AM

I’m bothered by this because the label and key are both wrong: “stream to TV” is just not accurate. Did they mean stream to large screen monitor? Or, stream to device larger than some arbitrarily chosen number like 45 inches? And what if I stream to my computer, but my monitor used with my computer is larger than my “TV?” What if I use my TV to broadcast my computer, is it still a “TV?” All of this is besides the point: everything is just a screen and content that matters is viewable in all formats desired. Yet some people insist on using this dated, dusty word.

Let’s dive in deeper: what exactly is a TV set, or Television? According to Wikipedia:

television set, also called a television receivertelevisionTV setTV, or “telly” (UK), is a device that combines a tuner, display, and speakers for the purpose of viewing television

According to Merriam Webster:

1:  an electronic system of transmitting transient images of fixed or moving objects together with sound over a wire or through space by apparatus that converts light and sound into electrical waves and reconverts them into visible light rays and audible sound
2:  a television receiving set
3a:  the television broadcasting industry
3b:  television as a medium of communication

So basically a modern large screen fits none of these descriptions. And the way content is now distributed (the only ways that matter: à la carte purchase or via on-demand streaming) does not fit these definitions.

Of course since part of the WSJ owners model remains selling TV ads, they are going to continue to call it TV (to sell the very expensive TV ads they have spent a long time convincing people to pay a lot for). But it hasn’t been that in a long time: there is simply content. The only people who really still think of TV as TV are those who still live an in analog world, to everyone else it’s already a quaint notion. Especially when TV ads are ignored, irrelevant and skipped. It’s a dying word only propped up by the very people benefitting from it. To everyone else, it’s over.

image credit: Shutterstock