After Lyn’s 6 year time commitments to her documentary have subsided, we didn’t need the space to produce and then market it around the world. So nearly two months ago we moved out of the larger rental we’d had for the last 3 years back into my old apartment in a flurry of concrete dust from polishing concrete and cursing from fitting storage. But I still haven’t bothered with connecting up broadcast TV. Why would I want to bother? Broadcast TV is largely mindless and endlessly frustrating.
It is really hard to think why it will ever make its way up my nearly infinite list of tasks to the point that I actually do it. And I’d have to confess on this Labour weekend that is because I’m always short of time outside of work (greater than 50 hours per week) and the task of running this blog site (about 10-20 hours per week). And I’m not that unusual for the more highly skilled in our society.
At present, I’m currently heavily involved in the software side of the release of two products that I’ve been working on for two and half years for my employers. And Lyn isn’t any better so I can’t just foist tasks on to her. She snuck in the house move in between a shoot in China and a shoot in India as well as her usual workload at the Business School. Time is at a premium and really has to compete against the simple joy of blobbing out and reading a ePub on my iPad (I got rid of all my books during the move. Lyn kept her ones as “decorations”).
So there is a priority ordered list of 18 tasks on the fridge with everything in it from “sticking door” down to “buy a washing line” and “plug for the bathroom sink” that we’re steadily working through. At the very bottom next to “plants for patio” is the lowest priority task – “fix the aerial”.
I’ll explain that. Basically we can’t get Freeview in our apartment despite the building having it on the central aerial. This is most likely because the process of fitting cupboards over the aerial connection damaged the wiring. It is probably a problem that I could fix easily if I could locate my old soldering iron, moved the TV, my server and workstation (and the innumerable wires), and partially emptied the cupboard. Ummm.. we’re talking much of a day to do that because this area is wire heaven. Ignoring it and going to Mitre 10 for a basic plug to get something off the list seems a whole lot easier.
But there are the benefits to broadcast TV that would outweigh the effort – surely? Uh no… It is hard to think of any compared to the alternatives for me. And there is story behind that.
About 6 months ago I brought a BluRay player, mainly because the old DVD player’s firmware was having real problems with the steadily worsening problem of scratches and gunk coating the surfaces of video store DVD’s. You know you have a problem when the player doesn’t just skip the affected section, and you have to unplug the device before it will respond to controls. It was about a decade old so it went in the pile to go to the City Mission when we moved.
I got a a previous years model Sony BDP-480 (for well less than listed) because:-
When I got it home and tested it it did everything perfectly.
But being a inveterate fiddler for function I checked out everything on the system. This included a pile of local and international internet media sources. After trying the usual YouTube junk that makes most reality TV look like it is worth watching, I found QuickFlix and MUBI subscription services. There were a pile more like Vice, Ziln, and (shudder) the bloody Wiggles but most of the content wasn’t up to wasting much of my time on. Turned out that there is only so much TEDTalks, Munchies, Citizen Bomber, nzheraldtv, money shows, OpenMic (I wonder where that came from?), and the like that we could watch.
But QuickFlix was for me definitely the pick of the bunch. Sorry, but the next bit is going to sound like an advertorial.
I want to watch mainstream movies and TV series and I don’t care much if they are up to date. If I want that then I can go to the movies or rent videos. What I need is what TV sometimes used to provide – actual entertainment, but to do it to my schedule – not to that of the advertisers. And it has to be cheap because I’m paying for most of the operational costs already through my internet link because the ISP’s grossly overcharge for local traffic.
And that is what QuickFlix provides. It costs $10 per month which is a damn sight better than the $70 I used to pay for Sky a few years ago. It has a moderately large selection that appears to have been culled from the frequency of rentals for older stuff from video stores, but which I suspect is more constrained by licencing restrictions. And above all it is is truly on demand, has no ads, doesn’t require me to have disk cleaners at hand, and is legal. Moreover it has interesting programmes that have never been displayed on NZ TV – like Being Erica which amused the hell out of me.
So back to my original point. Why would I want to revert to broadcast TV? What does it give me? This is my rough list looking at local TV (with Sky comments in brackets).
Ok there are a few things of real interest on TV as Brian Edwards pointed out today in “When Hone met Rachel – Now that was a surprise!“, and I agree with him that was definitely worth watching. Both Hone Harawira and Rachel Smalley were impressive.
But consider that I saw it on my iPad was the result of recommendation by someone whose opinion I value. I didn’t have to wade through the mindless drivel that broadcast TV has becoming to find a gem. Moreover, I did it strictly on my time schedule and using a direct link to the video page.
This is how I see almost everything these days on “broadcast” TV – I see fragments of their content. Someone tells me or I read that something is interesting – typically with a link. I watch it via the net. If it has adverts in it or is too damn slow (on-demand-TV from both channels comes to mind), then I find another source (video store or the like) or I simply wait for it to appear as a unencumbered link.
Sure I’m willing to pay for services, but as a discerning consumer that will be done strictly on my terms. Paying Sky for a pile of crap channels that I don’t want, paying rental on a obsolete junk device to decode broadcast, and doing it on their schedule isn’t a useful business model any more. I’ll pay for content provided across the internet where I can pick from a selection when I feel like watching something. And I want that as a fixed charge each month.
I’d pay to have the news and current affairs programs from all NZ channels available as a service. There are usually at least 5 minutes that I want to watch in the news each night. But there is no way that I want to go back to watching bloody ads and not being able to discard the sports and other dross.
I’m a pretty typical near the bleeding edge techie – I use what works. Where I go, you typically find the others follow over the following decades. And I’m so relieved that alternatives are available that I doubt that the aerial will ever go back in. The day of mass marketing via broadcast is nearly over. The internet provides point-to-point delivery and media organisation should stop pissing around and develop a way of delivering content that way.