This is what happens when you step away from something for a short amount of time: Things happen and you look like a moron when you actually find time to talk about them. Related: NPR's Terry Gross is going to speak in Frederick this evening.
OK. Maybe that's not related.
Anyway, let's flash back to the deep, dark and distant past, when the upfronts were still going on, and heat needed to be blasting through bedrooms as late-night temperatures dropped to somewhere between chilly and arctic. In midst of all the new fall lineup talk, Lisa de Moraes leaving the Washington Post and, of course, Michael J. Fox making his triumphant return to the airwaves, there was one tiny nugget of information this blog couldn't find the time to address. That nugget? Take it away Kelly West of Television Blend ...
“Starting this summer, subscribers will be able to watch TBS and TNT live — anytime, anywhere, on multiple devices,” Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, told the Upfront audience. “Tablets and smartphones become television sets, bringing new opportunities for us and for advertisers."
Wait. There is more.
"Just a day earlier," Fox Van Allen of the Techilicious blog wrote, "ABC unveiled its own plans to live stream content on an affiliate-by-affiliate basis, starting in New York and Philadelphia. More local ABC stations are slated to begin streaming later this summer. Many other television networks offer their content online, but ABC, TNT, and TBS are the first to truly go all-in."
And boom goes the dynamite.
You can't underestimate this move and the impact it will have on the future of television consumerism. To offer up the stuff live and mostly free (we'll get to that in a minute) is one small step for entertainment evolution and one giant leap for all TV-kind. Looking back on this move in 50 years, one may gasp at the magnitude of such a decision. Think about the moment black and white went to color. Multiply that by about six trillion. Kind of.
Maybe even slightly more important is the announcement that ABC is going to jump into the fold by offering up local feeds. I mean, this is something the cord-cutters have been dreaming about for years now — a reliable way to watch local-leaning programming on the web. It's like Christmas for TV Without A TV types and Santa has a few extra bucks in his pocket.
Natan Edelsburg, of the website Lost Remote, wrote an excellent piece on the future of cable television earlier today. Broken into multiple parts, one section falls under the following question: Do TV lovers even care about bundled channels anymore? Let's look at what he had to say ...
"The answer to that question really lies in the evolution of primetime. The sought after TV inventory that generates the billions revolves around the primetime hours and days of the week and year that NBC once smartly coined as 'Must-See TV,'" he wrote. "Does the web have a primetime yet? Do they even need it? Yes, they do and Netflix has proved it twice. Like the film industry the new standard in streaming TV is to create a massive hoopla around the launch. Memorial Day weekend was dominated with commentary on when and how to watch (a) show. A lot of the discussion was around spoilers, but do we ever discuss the issue of spoilers with movies? Not really, it’s just part of our culture — if you want to see a film and don’t want your friends to ruin it for you, see it on opening weekend. ... A TV world without a linear schedule will be forced to use social media, events, press, advertising, word-of-mouth and more to create an urgency and to create one that fits in with the lifestyle of today’s consumers. If the web world of Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and more can figure out how to drive this type of 'primetime' urgency, consumers might not need a traditional TV bundle."
Ahhh, yes. That buzzy word. "Bundle." Such is becoming increasingly irrelevant as the DVR-obsessed personalized libraries of television lovers become more and more separated from one another. Maybe the most important aspect of the Internet television phenomenon is the ability to pick and choose when we watch what. That desire is replacing the practicality of owning the ability to watch nine trillion channels when all we ever really actually view is about five of them. The bundle goes. The Internet slips in. ABC, TNT and TBS are the first to at least acknowledge that this sea-change is happening.
And frankly, good for them. The model isn't perfect, of course. To access this stuff, you have to enter information from your cable bill — told you we would get to it in a minute — thus proving that you still pay for regular television all while you pull it up online. Knowing that there are a large number of people who utilize a username and password from others who actually pay for a streaming Netflix account to access Big Red's library on their own, for instance, suggests the possibility that fundamental problems for this type of business model still exist, of course. But — and this is an important but — the mere fact that networks are willing to dip their toes into this pond at all is a sure sign of progress toward the inevitable.
Or, in other words, it's not perfect. But then again, what is?
For those interested in checking it out for yourself, head on over to tntdrama.com, tbs.com or http://beta.abc.go.com. And yes, "Franklin & Bash" still exists.