Television: Then and Now

By Lauren Fabiszak, Word Count: 562

Television as Americans know and love it today was first invented in 1927 by Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworkin. As stated in the “Currents in Communication” textbook, “in 1934, The U.S. Communications Commission established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate broadcasting”, but it wasn’t until 1939 until the “RCA demonstrated television broadcasting at the New York World’s Fair.”

By 1960, television was the newest and best thing, with large groups of families and friends crowded around 1 TV set to watch a program in complete awe. At the time, there were only 3 TV networks, and the first communication satellite wasn’t brought to fruition until 1962. However, “of the many flaws of ’60s entertainment TV, a major one was that it didn’t reflect what was going on in America, whether it was the civil rights movement or the escalation of the Vietnam War. Back then, there was a lot of TV that was created by producers who really underestimated the audience,” TV critic Eric Deggans said.

Fast forwarding now to the present day, where “tuning in” to a television show is basically taboo. People are more on-the-go, so their priorities have changed and they want to do everything at their own convienience. With the popularity rise of sites such as Netflix and social media app Twitter, the need to rely on watching scheduled TV programming is declining. Through these other mediums, viewers are granted immediate access to information or entertainment. “Netflix may have begun the revolution, but the market is now wide open, with everyone — not only Amazon and Google, but also the traditional networks like NBC and CBS — diversifying how they provide content, said Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University.

According to Forbes magazine, TV in the Web. 2.0 era is now being referenced to as, “Television 2.0”. “Television is on the verge of becoming completely personalized, interactive and enjoyed on-demand. In the Television 2.0 world, targeting gets personal.” The magazine further explains this new topic by adding that “arguably the best part of Television 2.0 is that all these advances are happening independently from the TV itself. So, none of the investment in your state-of-the-art home theater system went to waste. Television 2.0 will just make that home theater all the more spectacular.”

Beyond TV’s ability to reinvent itself, advertisements will also be tailored to the age and interests of the viewer, similar to how YouTube “suggests” related videos for you. “Not only are the commercials different for you and your friend across town, the commercial viewed by parents on the downstairs on one TV will be different than the commercial seen by the kids watching TV upstairs in the same house. With Internet Protocol (IP) set top boxes, demographic targeting is already upon us.”

Although it’s difficult to predict what really is next for the future of television, it’s certainly geared into the direction of personal streaming on devices such as cell phones and iPads. For example, Apple is working on a TV-streaming service that could give cable companies such as Comcast a run for their money. Not only would this new option provide less expensive channel bundles, but “the company’s involvement will surely bolster this new business since so many Americans already use its phones, its tablets and its streaming device, Apple TV.” By 10 or 20 years, it seems very likely that TVs may take the shape of a laptop or smart watch.

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