Monday, December 04, 2006

The Online Reality

Recently, I did a few things one would have though impossible a decade ago. I watched a new episode of Studio 60 on the NBC website. I also previewed Gwen Stefani's new single on iTunes, then jumped over to YouTube to watch her video. Yes sir, we are definitely in a digital age.

Some have cried doom at the new avenues of awareness. They believe album sales are down because of the ease of availability of songs on iTunes. They say that certain shows ratings are down because people jsut wait until they are on the internet the next day to watch it (this criticism is also applied to TiVo and DVR). But is delayed consumption or single consumption a bad thing?

There is a reason why a new song release is called a "single". The record companies want the public to consume the song in hopes of them devouring the entire album. iTunes allows the same sort of exposure conventional radio does, but one actually has to pay for it. The record company still gets some profit off of it. Not so with illegal music sites such as what Napster once was. But even in Napster's heyday, I rarely saw anyone download entire albums. It was usually a single or a couple of popular songs. From personal experience, sites such as iTunes and Napster actually expanded my musical tastes and lead to some purchases of CDs.

Having first run TV shows available online is also a good thing. I may not feel like watching Studio 60 on Monday night, but when I am bored later on in the week, I will go to the NBC website and watch the episode. I am still loyal to the show and will probably start watching it as it airs soon once again. It is not dissuading me from watching the commercial filled first airing, but rather, letting me not feel rushed and pressure to watch it. I have also watched episodes of Lost online (although it was more because I wanted to rewatch a previously seen ep) and the experience is totally different. Online viewing will never replace real time viewing, just because as much as we hate them, commercials allow for pause. There is very little dramatic or comedic tension in a commercial-less online viewing.

The reason for the decline in certain aspects of the entertainment fields is not due to internet piracy or the ease of consumption of the net. It is because the quality and the cost of the things that demand immediate entertainment attention doesn't really deserve that attention. If the quality of the product is good, then no one will wait on it. Even with TiVo, people most often watch things live if they feel they can't miss it. If the object is average or subpar, then people can wait for the next day or not even catch it. The internet has just added another floor to smash through before the bottom drops out of a bomb of a project.


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