Do I need a TV?

I was camping the other weekend – or “glamping” as I believe it’s now called!  There’s nothing new about this, other than the fact that I’ve moved from being under canvas to being in a motorhome.

My uncle was with us, and being an avid and, somewhat, expert motor-homer he was giving me advice on what cables I need.

“You need a co-axial cable” he stated.  “Why?” was my reply.  “So you can watch TV” came the retort.  “Why?” was my answer.

This seemed to throw a “curve ball” to my Uncle.  After a few seconds he shrugged his shoulders and announced “Oh”.

Now at this point I’m going to diversify into some thoughts. Firstly there is something not quite right about venturing into the outdoors armed with a sofa and a TV!  Why bother?!?

On the other hand, if it’s raining then it could come in handy. :)

My point is this.  Why do I need a TV when I have the internet?  After all,  TV is only there to fill a gap in time, to occupy and entertain some “grey cells”.  The internet does the same thing.  On a campsite I can get the internet if I need it, so why do I need to focus on getting TV?

Moreover, that same thought process seems to be finding its way into the home as well.

On May 3rd this year (2001) Nielsen reported that there has been a drop in households with TVs (in the US).  It’s only a small drop, a mere 2%-ish. And of course this can be down to other factors such as economics or the digital transition. However, The Consumer Electronics Association reported a down turn in TV sales by 1% but an increase in internet units by 151%.

These are trifling figures in the grand scheme of things, but the mere fact that we can talk about them and that they exist gives credence to the fact that the “digital age” that we are all part of is taking over.

More and more people seem to be watching TV with a computer (device) on their laps.  This is obvious by looking at the social interaction happening around a programme whilst it’s being aired.  My wife found the Twitter stream around the X-Factor more entertaining than the programme itself!   How long do you think it’ll be before we ditch the TV and do it all from one device?

The TV is a long way off going down the same route as the typewriter, but it is going the same way as web 1.0 – it’s there but it’s only being used in small doses. What humans need, and indeed are enjoying, is social interaction – Web 2.0.  This you can’t get from TV but you can from digital devices.

As much as my Uncle was trying to impart his experience to me with respect to co-axial cables and TV on campsites (of which I was very grateful), part of me was wondering how soon it will be before this process gets consigned to history.

I believe this is the same for everyone and everything.  To try and apply a process that does not fit anymore is akin to floating a plastic duck in a lava flow – very short lived.

I think this quote sums it up quite well:

“The marvels – of film, radio, and television – are marvels of one-way communication, which is not communication at all. ~Milton Mayer



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  • Hi Nick

    Great blog.

    Yes, it’s interesting how things are developing – many people are also now time shifting TV by recording and then watching it when it is convenient for them. Or they use the iPlayer or iTunes.

    This is having the effect of shaking up the advertising industry – why pay top money for a ‘prime time’ TV slot when people will be watching it at another time?

    With time shifting, people can fast forward through the ads as well – a one hour program has 20 minutes of ads so doing this means they save a third of their time!

    It’s why product placement is now coming into UK programmes, people won’t watch the adverts so they need to get their products to us.

    If it’s done well then it’s ok, but there is the danger of overdoing it and damaging the credibility of the programme (and the brand.)

    An example of this is the TV show ‘Bones’ in the US – one of the characters drives a Prius, and goes over the top with demonstrating all its features! Or Jack Bauer and his Hyundai car in the later series. People don’t actually talk like that in real life.

  • Anonymous


    I think TV should allow better viewing without gratuitous advertising knowing that they can influence the social streams instead.

    So it would seem that product placement coupled with targeted influence of the social streams may have a better effect on ROI.

    Increasing the length of the adverts will only p*ss off the viewer – akin to putting the plastic duck in the lava flow.


  • Teena Vallerine

    I lived in a caravan for 7 years. I can categorically state that when it rains you do not need a TV because you cannot hear a sodding thing over the sound of rain on an aluminium roof! 
    However for the majority of that time we received a great deal of harrasment from the TV licensing authorities who struggle to believe that anyone can exist without a TV.
    In addition, now that we do have a TV in the house the few programmes worth watching are never on at a convenient time so we use iPlayer far more that the black thing in the corner because I can’t be bothered to work out how to make it record to HD!  (and yes, we do have a license now!).

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