Does the freedom of streaming TV online change what it means to watch TV?
Streaming television has changed entertainment for the better. It is now possible to choose from an almost endless supply of programming right from your home. This entertainment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no longer a need to keep up with program offerings that may not fit into your schedule. You can pick what you want to watch, and when you want to watch it.
With streaming television and the freedom it offers, we are no longer bound by the tyranny of the network schedule. We are no longer bound by the tedium of having to watch 10 minutes of ads for 20 minutes of content. Indeed, we are now able to buy content direct, establishing a much closer, equitable, and beneficial relationship between content producer and consumer. It will now be much easier for content producers to see how many people are consuming their product. Such schemes might have helped prevent travesties like the premature canceling of Firefly by Fox. Services, like Hulu+, Amazon Video on Demand, and Netflix, allow us to either pay flat fees, or to accept limited and much more targeted/relevant advertisements, in exchange for on-demand content that we can watch repeatedly, and at our leisure. It opens up more competition between content providers for consumer dollars. No longer is the cable company or the over-the-air broadcaster the only source for content. This competition, loathed by the big cable companies, is tremendously beneficial for the consumer.
How many times in the "old days" did you mindlessly channel-flip, looking for something to watch, only to finally turn off the TV with the resigned proclamation of "nothing's on"? Streaming TV on demand completely changes that. It empowers the viewer and makes him or her take a more active role in deciding what to watch. It improves quality of life and, if the viewer chooses to watch something educational, it can even broaden horizons and improve minds.
Before online streaming was available, people gathered in one place to watch a program that aired on a particular night. We can now watch when we like, where we like, alone or with others, on any device we like. Along with the major shifts in how advertising is delivered in broadcast versus streaming media, this changes what it means to "watch TV" in many ways.
With streaming online television, people will probably watch more television. The commercials on TV right now show people watching television while checking out in a store. It will easier to watch TV and there may be some issues in schools if smart phones are used to watch TV during classes. It may also further disrupt social interactions in the world if people go around watching TV all the time on their various forms of technology.
Families used to sit down and watch TV together as a family, and that was a bonding experience and form of togetherness. Now everyone can just watch whatever they want on their phone, PC, or laptop.
TV watching to me means actually sitting down and watching TV shows or movies on a television set. Watching it online through a personal computer is not actually watching TV. It's a similar concept, whereas you are watching something such as a show or movie on a screen, but it's not the exact same as watching TV.
There is no significant difference between watching streaming TV online and watching regular TV programming. The only real difference is that you can watch shows on demand online, as opposed to watching scheduled programming on TV. Essentially you are still watching the same shows and can even watch streaming TV online on your regular TV set.
Streaming TV online is similar to video-on-demand through anyone's cable TV. This, in turn, is only a more convenient form of renting DVDs from a rental outlet to watch TV shows and movies when you want, or recording shows on a VCR to watch later. Technology is increasing the availability of what shows can be watched and when, but not the evolving ability of media to bring us any show we want, when we want it.
The venue that is used to deliver TV programs to the individual users will not change the overall meaning of watching TV. People will always have a tradition to watch TV in their homes, and will always watch it as we watch it now, even if they are watching it through the Internet.