By Kevin Eghrari
Beginning with the invention of the cathode ray tube by Vladamir Zworkin in 1920, television is the second most recent major communications medium before (most recently) the web and after newspapers and radio. Television became successful because it had the power to combine audio and visual communication, however it took a lot of work to become the titan of communication it is today, with 96.7% of Americans having a set in their homes.
A brief history of the evolution of television includes “a system developed for scanning images at sixty lines per second” by Philo Farnsworth in 1928”(Textbook Ch.10). After that, the next major improvement includes a practical technique for video recording, developed by Ampex. This allowed television to expand its media capability from strictly live showings, to previously recorded footage or film. Before this technique, tapes and film were very expensive. Next, in 1953, color television became a possibility and as mentioned before, in the 1960’s satellite television was introduced to the industry. This allowed various broadcasting companies to rent satellite space and broadcast to televisions across the nation. Finally and most recently, High definition television was introduced which allows for broadcasters to “send images that have 1,080 lines or more”(Textbook Ch.10).
As with all mediums of communications, the driving force behind the development of television is due to advances and innovations in technology as seen above. However, it has also been the driving force behind the extinction of mediums of communication. In the case of television, the technological advancement of the Web 2.0 era could have this effect on the industry, as we know it. Although the true medium in its simplest form of visual and audio communication will remain, the companies that have ruled over television broadcasting may see their demise if they fail to adapt to the Web 2.0 era.
“Web 2.0 is the current state of online technology as it compares to the early days of the Web, characterized by greater user interactivity and collaboration, more pervasive network connectivity and enhanced communication channels.” With the era of Web 2.0, technological change in this field has impacted the world of television in many ways. Specifically, the possibility of digital convergence, which is “the ability to view the same multimedia content from different types devices”. This can also be known as digitization. With the emergence of digitization, a person is able to access what makes television, television, on their computer, tablet, or even smart phone.
Digitization has already greatly impacted the television industry, with sites like Hulu, Netflix, HBOgo, or CNN.com as well as products such as Chromecast or Apple TV (which essentially turn your monitor or computer into a television). These sites and products greatly take away from the revenue of TV providers. For example, “About 5 million people signed up for Netflix, Hulu, and other low-cost -streaming-video services in 2013, so they could watch shows and movies via the internet. Many of these people simultaneously “cut the cord” on their pay-TV subscriptions, resulting in a net decline of 250,000 cable subscribers that year”. In my opinion, what this means for television in the eyes of the consumer, is simply easier access to entertainment and news. However, in the eyes of TV providers and networks, this could very well be their demise if they are not quick enough to adapt to the Web 2.0 era.