Magazine article Variety

Must-Discuss TV Vexes the On-Demand Generation

Magazine article Variety

Must-Discuss TV Vexes the On-Demand Generation

Article excerpt

The urgency to watch 'Breaking Bad' and other shows live feels strange to this beat reporter

For a TV beat reporter, I spend an alarming number of my evenings with my television off.

I chastise myself for this constantly: I should watch more live TV. I should have it on in the background.

Earlier this month, I was forced to.

"Million Second Quiz" bowed Sept. 9 on NBC, and I had to play along live with the "MSQ" app. I texted a friend: "Can we do dinner another night? I have to watch a show at 8 p.m."

The irritation I felt at the inconvenience made me realize how heavily I rely on time-shifted viewing - not to mention that I wanted sushi that night.

No matter how many next-day ratings stories I write, I'm still the embodiment of the headache networks and advertisers suffer from these days. Nets struggle to measure how many people watch a TV program over three days or seven days, while Madison Avenue struggles to figure out how many are seeing their advertising messages.

I stream. I DVR. I read, I go to dinner, I run errands and see family, all during primetime hours. And with Netflix, HBOGo and Hulu passwords in my arsenal, I'm armed and ready to watch what I need to on my own timetable - unapologetically so.

Despite my habits today, the tube was always glowing when I was a kid: "Rugrats" and "Doug" were appointment shows for me and my younger brother; "Friends" and HBO for my parents. The sets ran in the background like comforting white noise.

But with access to high-speed Internet and a DVR, I ditched the remote as a teenager in favor of my laptop, fitting my favorite shows around my study schedule. I had a TV set in my college dorm and apartments, but the convenience of streaming was just too perfect: Slowly but surely, the TV set was off more than it was on.

More recently, however, I've been pulled back into the linear approach thanks to an acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out) brought on by "Breaking Bad. …

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