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The Future Of Television

Old TV

The way we watch TV is changing especially now that many younger watchers aren't watching it in the same way as their parents did.

Television – what we watch and how we watch it – is changing.

It wasn't all that long ago where we had three channels to watch.

Now, with cable and satellite packages, it seems like we can get somewhere near 15,000.

But younger people – millennials – aren't subscribing to pay television at high rates. They're not even watching much television at all.

So, we wondered: what do we make of this?

How is television changing, and how will it continue to change?


KNPR's State of Nevada coordinating producer and resident millennial Casey Morell said he cut the cord in college and really never looked back. However, he does watch TV in his own way.

“I have a Netflix subscription. I come home from work some days I decide I want to watch something that is on Netflix I’ll turn on my television, turn on my Apple TV that is hooked up to it, pop in Netflix and go from there. I’m also a sports fan so there are a couple of sports packages that I subscribe to. Being a Kansas City Royals fan here in Las Vegas, it’s not like I get much chance to watch my team so having an MLB TV subscription allows me to watch those as well.”

Morell said his way of watching TV means there are very few shows he considers 'appointment viewing.'

“The only things that I will really try to make time to watch are, like you said, local news and Jeopardy, because Jeopardy is not on any streaming service that I can at least find. So when I know it’s on at 6:30, I can say, ‘Okay, I can watch Jeopardy now.’ Even shows that would have been appointment viewing four or five years ago, if I miss them I can just go to Hulu the next day or something else like that and watch it online”

Eric Deggans is the television critic for NPR. He said the changing media landscape is changing the power structure.

“We’re at a media moment where media consumers expect media to find them. They are not going to go to media. They’re not going to go out and find shows in general. Now, it’s to the point where appointment viewing for most people can be narrowed down to a select two or three or four shows that people make sure they always catch.”

He said because there are so many ways to find a show you want to watch the power is now in the hands of the consumer.

“The big change here is that technology has given consumers a level of power over how they will consume media that we have never seen before, and it has shifted the power relationship from the entities that create media and distribute it to the people who consume it.”

Richard Lawler, senior editor of Engadget, said it is not whether technology will take over from TV but how TV will embrace technology.

“I think the question is what kind of TV company are you talking about. Some of them will probably go away. Some of them, who have a lot of content to offer who already have those strong relationships with their customers, will remain. They will still be able to extend that no matter what the platform is and I think that’s what we’re seeing the start of now when you look at companies like HBO and Showtime, which have recently launched on the Internet now and they’re ready to reach customers, like Casey, who don’t have a regular cable package, when just a few years ago that was the only way you could get HBO and Showtime.”

Lawler said watching live sports is still one of the big sticking points for many people. 

“That is the big heavy weight and the big cost in many cable packages. One of the interesting things about Casey is that, in his situation, the team that he wants to watch isn’t in the area that he lives, so he has an option that a lot of people don’t have. If the team you want to watch is where you want to live, typically those games will be blacked out, so you would really need a traditional TV package to watch them.”  





Eric Deggans, NPR television critic;  Richard Lawler, senior editor of Engadget;  Casey Morell, KNPR coordinating producer

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)