by Jim O'Kane, TVDads.com
August of 2016 will mark the third decade of TVDads.com. When I started building this site, television seemed an eternal, universal medium of pop culture. Everyone watched TV - - with the advent of more cable stations every year, the habit of watching television at night seemed perpetually ingrained in our way of life.
Time-shifting, a method of viewing shows at times other than their broadcast schedules, was a peripheral activity far from the norm, used mostly by 9-to-5'ers who wanted to catch soap operas after the workday was over. The only occasions viewers watched more than one TV episode at a time were during those rare "marathon" broadcasts, such as the Twilight Zone Christmas festival on the (then) Sci-Fi Channel.
We've moved on, both in technology and viewership. HD replaced Standard Definition, DVDs turned into Blu-Rays, and cable TV expanded into streaming video from places like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Plus, and hosts of other Internet networks that gain more subscribers each month as traditional television networks shed viewers. By the end of 2014, Nielsen reported that over 40% of US homes were subscribed to Video-On-Demand services (VODs), and 13% of these homes were subscribed to more than one service. The numbers were even more staggering when paired with those who opted for newer technologies: if you owned an HDTV in 2014, there was a 95% chance you also had Netflix.
So, where does this leave TV Single Dads in an age where "TV" is morphing into something other than what we used to agree on was "TV?" What are the parameters that still define the medium? Is everything presented on the Internet in video format now considered "television?"
I think we have to limit the scope of what a TV show is. It's not going to be delivered by YouTube, for example - - YouTube is a platform whose content is generated by any user with a camera and an Internet connection, so the channel is too vague to be considered as a source of "TV shows." Likewise, video content presented by a non-broadcast website should be disqualified, as the content isn't competing for eyeballs from standard VOD services.
Until technology changes again (as it's almost certain to do so in the coming years), I'm going to require that any Internet programming that qualifies as a TV show must be from a VOD service and can be viewed on any television screen. Shows that require a specific game box or handheld device do not qualify. Any video series originating on YouTube must be available on another VOD service such as Hulu or Netflix. Shows that only exist on recorded media (such as DVDs, Blu-Rays and the like) and have never been broadcast on any network, cable, or VOD service are disqualified. And as always: movies are not TV shows, no matter how many sequels and no matter how many times they've been shown on a network.
Not liking the rules? Write me and let me know where you think the new lines should be drawn.