With the exception of the occasional football match or Formula 1 race I have stopped watching live television, instead I ‘catch-up’ with the iPlayer, 4OD, and occasionally the ITV Player and Demand Five. Online availability has now become the most important factor in my watching of a television programmme; if a programme is not available online it doesn’t exist to me. Increasingly, however, I’m not just ‘catching-up’ with current television, I’m watching the increasing number of old series online.
The last couple of weekends have been spent/wasted watching the Day of the Triffids on the MSN Video Player, Relic Hunter on Blinkbox, and the surprisingly enjoyable Dick Van Dyke Show on Joost; whole series available for watching in one sitting. Whilst the selection of programmes freely available is currently fairly limited, these are likely to increase with the increasing number of new entrants in the market (e.g., SeeSaw) offering content providers a new revenue streams.
The big difference with watching such series, however, is the lack of a shared cultural experience. There are few in my social circle who will have watched Relic Hunter or the Dick Van Dyke Show (or who would admit to it in public), and so I’m watching them in isolation. Whilst the web offers the opportunity for discussions to occur around idiosyncratic television selections, it won’t be the same as having shared experiences with friends and colleagues.