Instant Gratification

People don’t watch TV when their shows are actually on anymore. Well, they do, but these people don’t live on a college campus, where you have things to do during primetime. You go to parties, you do homework, you have club meetings; any sort of extracurricular that takes place after class usually takes place somewhere between 5PM and 10PM. And this is when a lot of your favorite TV shows are on, because it’s primetime for television, when everyone else in America is sitting in front of their TV, ready to catch the newest episode of their favorite show. We can’t, and because TiVo and DVR don’t exist on this campus (or possibly any campus), we have no way to catch the shows except to tune in online. This is where the problems arise.

The easiest way to watch TV online is to try and find it on a legal site, like Hulu, or Fancast, or the network website. It’s legal, free, and if you’re lucky, it won’t take too long to load. But what if you have to wait? Lots of networks wait two or three days, sometimes a whole week or more, to post their episodes online. And most of those episodes are not up there forever, which means that if you get bogged down with work and activities, and you miss the window of opportunity, then it’s tough luck for you, kid.

So you would do what any college student does. You turn to your friendly Internet pirates and find a not-so-legal site to watch your show, and if you’re into it, movies from all over the world. It takes some time to buffer, and sometimes you’re stuck with limits on how many minutes you can watch in an hour, but the shows are always there. Always. Even back episodes of really old shows, or really obscure shows that you can’t find anywhere else. It is a good time waster, and because the shows weren’t downloading directly onto your computer, you don’t feel like you were doing anything too illegal.

And then this past weekend, the shit hit the fan. Two of the biggest file-sharing sites, mega-upload and megavideo, were shut down this weekend by the government, and it was seen by some as the precursor to SOPA (stop-online-piracy-act), which was originally scheduled to be brought before congress, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. It has since been postponed, but the outcome and effects of the mega sites being gone remains the same.

Many other sites have already started deleting television shows in order to avoid being shut down. It’s becoming increasingly harder to find shoes to watch on these online sites, which should make much of the government happy. But it’s also going to make the public very unhappy, especially the young adult demographic, i.e. college students.

We are a generation born of instant gratification. We see something, we want it, and we get it. End of story. Generally, you don’t have to wait longer than five minutes to get a new song from iTunes, or ten seconds to load a webpage, assuming you have a decent Internet connection. And yet, the rest of the world, specifically the television networks, don’t seem to understand this. We have to wait days and days to watch television, and by that time, we might not even remember that we wanted to watch it, or have the time to do so. If networks want to get viewers, then they have to connect with the new generation in the increasingly new technological ways. I know that they are trying, but there really need to get their foot out of the door, and shove their whole bodies inside.

Start making TV shows available the day after they air, either on your website, or on an associate website. If you have to put the same amount of advertisements in, then fine. We can deal with it. Don’t wait longer than a week to put shows on the air, and keep them online for longer than a week and a half. We can watch more of your shows that way, and you can make more money off of advertisements that way. Everybody’s happy. Instant gratification. End of Story.