How did you watch TV this Christmas? Did everyone get together, crowded on and in front of the sofa? Did you line up the box sets? Or did you go through the TV guide and circle the programmes of choice, á la 2001?
The TV watching this year felt very old fashioned in my house. We usually like to record things, gathering episodes of Educating Yorkshire, which we then pick off a few at a time, accompanied by a bottle of red. Christmas isn’t that sort of time – instead of just hitting record on the next Harry Potter, there was something fun about organising the day in order to sit down in time for the start off a film.
Earlier this year, there was some research undertaken into how the British public watches television, with the view to proving that On Demand TV is going to make TV listings obsolete. Providers like LOVEFiLM, which allow users to watch what they want, anytime, anywhere, have also changed the way that we view television. There is probably some truth in this – in 2013 House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, won an Emmy award despite having never been shown on ‘live’ TV.
So, will the rise of On Demand change the way that series are produced? There has been concern that the cliff hanger ending is in danger – do we still need suspense if we do not have to wait a week for the next instalment? This concern is needless – the way we tell stories has been developed over thousands of years, and the storylines of today’s soaps still follow the patterns established by the Norse Sagas. Often the old ways are the best – as the BBCs abandonment of 3D TV has shown, and the selection of film and television this Christmas meant that there was no need to turn to On Demand shows for entertainment. We enjoyed re-runs of all the Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films, all nicely spread out to keep everyone looking forward to the next instalment.
It’s more likely that our busy lifestyles and long working hours are more to blame for our new dependency on On Demand programmes, rather than boredom with re-runs. As a nation, we often aren’t at home – but when we are, we still enjoy looking through the TV guide.