We are 12 family members at our vacation home in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay, many teenagers. We have WiFi, computers, tablets, smartphone, Kindles, books but no TV. And nobody gives a f….

During this vacation, nobody mentioned that we should buy a TV or that they missed watching TV. And since I don’t watch TV either I did not get one. But a couple of days ago, a broker said we should have a TV for a tenant who comes in February. “A tenant could not rent a house without a TV” he said. So I ordered one online and connected it to DirectTV thinking that somebody in my family may want to watch it. Still nobody gives a f…. about watching TV. The TV is there, turned off, everyone is online in some form or other, or reading, or just interacting with each other, but no TV. People go to the beach, cycling, walking, dancing at night, all sorts of things other than watching TV.

Now I don’t know if there is a global trend towards watching less TV. There are also no newspapers in this house and news are read online, so maybe traditional TV is really going the way of newspapers. But data show that in some families TVs are on 4 hours a day. So here’s a theory of what may be going on in my family.

Communal TV is in a way like telephone calls, which are also disappearing in our family. Telephones have this thing to them that is rude, that they ring and annoy everyone, that one person speaks and everyone has to listen to half of what they say, and they are then disconnected from others while they speak but they are still there. Telephone solved a lot of needs when that is all there was to communicate. But now telephones are smart, different and people rarely talk on them. All types of messengers are taking over, Facebook, email, chats of various kinds. They are more private, you answer when you want to.

TV also has this aspect to it that it’s hard to get everyone to agree to watch the same thing at the same time. It’s great for those who enjoy it, annoying for the rest. We can watch TV content of course, and we do, especially series such as In Treatment, Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Boardwalk Empire, Big Love, Dowton Abbey, The Pacific and many others. But we don’t use a traditional TV for that anymore. We have tablets, Netflix, etc. So no Big TV always on for the Varsavskys, just tablets, PCs, smartphones, kindles and still a few paper books lying around.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Julian on January 6, 2012  · 

Te same is happening in my house. We use the TV a little bit less every day. We still using the device just to “enlarge” our display, as we connect the computer to TV and audio, and of course, the experience watching a movie in a large screen and nice quality sound is better than watching directly from our computers. But directly from the DTV connection, almost nothing.

Besides of the main topic of your post, it was interesting to me to learn that you rent your property when you don’t use it (in this case, during February). I’m pretty sure that you do not “need” to rent your house, but you decided to optimize your assets.

Is a pleasure reading you, both here and in your TW account.

3.0 rating

Marco on January 7, 2012  · 

Same is happening here in Tokyo.
Our family watched TV only after the 3/11 earthquake as it was the best way to get fast video coverage of the crisis.

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Jose on January 7, 2012  · 

As someone interested with tech, I stopped reading newspapers for Internet like 15 years ago, even when they gave it away freely at the University. It was like: Why do I need to kill trees for yesterday news? (paper mills are terrible contaminating the waters if you have lived near them)

Why they need 100 pages when I am only interested in 2?.

The same happened with TV like 5 years ago. My old parents continue using it thought, but this is going to change with time 😀

3.0 rating

Haim on January 8, 2012  · 

When we moved to a new home, my family asked 1st about internet readiness, television was second. Line phone didn’t make the list. Of course everybody has cellphones. But neither the Varsavsky’s nor mine are typical families. For most “normal” people still the TV is the main entertainment and information mean, and paid television subscriptions are still growing everywhere.

What are the reasons for that? I’m not sure, but we saw a huge technological development in the last 10 years on computers/tablets and cellphones. These are devices for individual use. The TVs receivers are more or less what we had 20 years ago, now they are flat, LCD or LED and prices went down. But still is the same experience: you seat, select your program, and watch it. Yes, now we have HD, and it looks better, sound better. Better productions, multi-cameras, even some interactivity. But watching TV is still the same thing. And if you go on the large screen TV, it is more likely a family/multiple-viewers experience than a single one.

So there are technical and social aspects of it. The question is where the world is going and what will be in the next 10-15 years i.e.. Probably a mix of everything, and more integration with streaming. But I expect more technical developments on TV devices and Movie theaters, and it will attract more people to them. We’ll see, Martin will write about it. By that time, he will be retired and will have more time to blog.

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Adan on January 8, 2012  · 

Perhaps it’s because you’re on vacation? Who watches TV when they’re on vacation?

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Diego W on January 12, 2012  · 

TV content that either has been around for a long time or is not new. All the show that you mention have been around for over 2 seasons. This means that there’s still not a good way of watching new episodes – Hulu post them a few days or a few days later – instantly when they are being released.
Still, obscure, new shows don’t get instant attention from online distribution.
Rubicon, as an example, lasted one season. Was on AMC and took weeks for each episode to be uploaded into Hulu. I imagine it would be available inside Netflix if the come out with a Season I DVD.
By the way, Netflix content selection it’s very bad.

3.0 rating

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