On Demand TV

Our toddler has found a few episodes of programs that are available on Netflix that he really likes, and he keeps asking for those same episodes. As hard as we try to get him to watch different ones, he keeps asking for the same ones that he really likes. Now, granted he doesn’t get to see much TV, so not risking the limited time you are allowed TV watching a new episode that you might not like is a low risk option, but what struck me more was not that he did this as much as how his generation are growing up without the limitations of scheduled television.

On Demand Lifestyle

The obvious difference between on demand programming like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video is that you are no longer bound to the time a TV channel executive has chosen for your program to air. Growing up in the scheduled TV era, while we had several channels (for most of my childhood 3, and latterly 4) but we could only watch what was on when it was on. Those lucky enough to have a VCR could potentially watch them later on, if the machine recorded it correctly, and nobody with higher priority wanted to record something at the same time from a different channel.

Sure, most people still consume their TV from scheduled sources, whether it is over the air or via cable or satellite. But increasingly I am hearing of people doing what we have done and cutting the cable. While I did wire up an antenna for over the it broadcasts, we don’t really watch anything on those channels. Almost everything we are watching currently is coming from Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime. So we get to choose what we watch, when we watch it and whether we watch it all at once or come back to finish it later.

One Episode Per Week

In addition to being bound to the exact time that the program aired to watch it, TV stations typically only fed new episodes out at the rate of one per week. That meant a certain commitment, planning your schedule around the time slot allocated to the program for many consecutive weeks. Not always easy, especially as a kid subject to other events deemed more important.

If you were lucky, there would be a slot in the weekly schedule for a repeat so you had a second chance. But that was it. Miss that, and you missed that episode until the station decided to re-run the entire series, if they ever did. With our on demand services we can often access the entire series and watch them back to back in a marathon session if we want to. Or skip episodes we don’t like the sound of at will. The excellent Netflix produced House of Cards series was released in its entirety on one day. All episodes available for streaming immediately.

Endless Repeats 

I knew of all of those advantages of our on demand solution before we cut the cable. The aspect I had not considered before though was this ability to choose to one episode and keep watching it over and over again. Partly that’s because I can’t think of anything I would actually want to do that with. We do occasionally watch an old movie that we have seen before, but that is not often and certainly not several times in the same week.

For our little one though, that is the way TV works. He was surprised we couldn’t rewind or pause a program we were watching on PBS over the air a few days ago; his mind has already decided that TV should have those features. I know I could buy a DVR for the broadcast TV, but given how little of it we watch, and the fact they also need a monthly subscription for the channel & schedule info, I just don’t see the value. He expects to be able to choose any episode of a series he likes, including the one he watched yesterday, at any time of day or night, and watch it immediately.