Ode To Videotape
By James Grahame
I really miss my VCR. It still lives under the TV in the living room, but it's only been used once this year. The reason is simple -- it can't record modern HD digital signals, making it absolutely useless. As the parent of a young child, I used to time-shift a lot.
I know I could buy a Tivo, but I'm reluctant to sign up for yet another service that demands a monthly fee. And Blu-ray recorders still haven't caught on, thanks to multi-thousand dollar price tags. That leaves me with few options (and no, I don't want the 'fun' of maintaining and debugging a media PC that has to work flawlessly to keep my family happy).
The reaction in my household was simple. Since we can't record stuff, we started skipping episodes. And, eventually, we found ourselves skipping entire shows. It got to the point where we realized just after Christmas that we weren't watching TV at all. So we suspended our satellite service.
Technology companies have finally succeeded in removing the record button from the living room, something they've wanted since the dawn of home taping. They're happy to offer à la carte viewing at exorbitant prices -- who in their right mind honestly believes that a single 40 minute episode of House should cost $3.49? I've grabbed a handful of episodes from iTunes, but it's too costly to do that on a regular basis.
So we do without. By making it harder to record shows, the major networks and cable companies have made their product so awkward and costly that people are looking elsewhere for entertainment.
Ironically, the media conglomerates are too greedy to realize what they've done. They blame declining viewership on copyright infringement and piracy, not their own missteps. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a bike ride...