Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Post-TV: Piracy, Cord-Cutting, and the Future of Television

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 360
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In the late 2000s, television no longer referred to an object to be watched; it had transformed into content to be streamed, downloaded, and shared. Tens of millions of viewers have "cut the cord," abandoned cable television, tuned into online services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, and also watch pirated movies and programmes at an unprecedented rate. The idea that the Internet will devastate the television and film industry in the same way that it gutted the music industry no longer seems farfetched. The television industry, however, remains driven by outmoded market-based business models that ignore audience behaviour and preferences.

    InPost-TV, Michael Strangelove explores the viewing habits and values of the post-television generation, one that finds new ways to exploit technology to find its entertainment for free, rather than for a fee. Challenging the notion that the audience is constrained by regulatory and industrial regimes, Strangelove argues that cord-cutting, digital piracy, increased competition, and new modes of production and distribution are making audiences and content more difficult to control, opening up the possibility of a freer, more democratic, media environment.

    A follow-up to the award-winningWatching YouTube,Post-TVis a lively examination of the social and economic implications of a world where people can watch what they want, when they want, wherever they want.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6618-4
    Subjects: Business, Performing Arts, Technology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    A teenage girl called out to her friends who were playing along the shore of a duck pond, “Hey, let’s go in the car and watch a movie!” The sun was shining, ducks were cruising along the shoreline in search of a handout, tulips were in full bloom. It was a perfect spring day in Ottawa. Yet, as far as the teenagers were concerned, all that sublime beauty was no match for the siren call of the family car’s entertainment system. There were movies to be watched, after all.

    When I was a teenager the phrase “Let’s go in the...

  5. 1 From the Remote Control to Out of Control: Music Piracy and the Future of Television
    (pp. 21-47)

    One of the main reasons the Internet represents a threat to the television industry is written in the history of television itself, which is defined by recurring issues of choice and control. The television industry has a long history of trying to control audiences and limit choices. The appearance of a medium that is intrinsically difficult to control becomes all the more significant given the considerable efforts to control content and audiences since the early days of television.

    Control takes many forms. The anti-competitive behaviour of media conglomerates and concentrated markets found across the globe are forms of control.¹ Media...

  6. 2 Television and Movie Piracy: Simple, Fast, and Free
    (pp. 48-73)

    In 2012 the government-sponsored New Zealand Science Media Centre informed the press that “New Zealanders are ready and willing to pay for legitimate alternatives to illegally downloaded movies and television content, but they aren’t being given the options fast enough.”¹ When theNew Zealand Heraldreported the story online, readers wrote over 100 comments that provided insight into the dilemmas facing the post-television audience. Most of the comments reflected a willingness to pirate, disparaged the available legitimate online television services, and complained about the state of the national television industry.² Their comments reflected an audience that is aware of the...

  7. 3 Sports Television Piracy: They Stream. They Score!
    (pp. 74-93)

    With over 219 million viewers the 2012 Olympic Games in London was the most watched television event in US history. The London Games also set records for online television viewing, delivering 159 million video streams of events and 20.4 million hours of online video.¹ The London Games demonstrated that a mass audience can be reached through commercial online television. It also demonstrated that Internet audiences will use illicit means to view sports online when they are dissatisfied with a commercial service. Technical problems and NBC’s inferior commentary on the Olympics had Tara Jenson

    scrambling for other ways to watch live....

  8. 4 Television’s Scariest Generation: Cord Cutters and Cord Nevers
    (pp. 94-123)

    Among the television industry’s biggest fears is the phenomenon known as cord-cutting (also called cable-cutting).¹ Cord-cutting refers to individuals cancelling cable television subscriptions and turning to “over-the-top” services such as Netflix, Hulu, Boxee, iTunes, and YouTube, free over-the-air television, or simply pirating all their entertainment needs off the Internet. Small but worrisome declines are being registered across the television system. At the time of writingPost-TVit was still much too early to know how widespread cord-cutting would become. As yet we do not know how many will use the Internet as their primary source for television shows and movies....

  9. 5 Disruption: Viewing Habits of the Post-television Generation
    (pp. 124-144)

    Television viewing may have undergone more changes in the past ten years than it did over the entire twentieth century. In the twentieth century, changes to the structure of the television industry led to an expansion in content choices and more risqué sexual and violent content (think HBO). Remote controls along with VHS and DVD players failed to instigate revolutionary changes in viewing and content. Even DVRs did not lead to hugely disruptive changes in viewing patterns.¹ These technologies delivered more content from commercial and state production systems while giving the audience greater freedom as to when they could watch...

  10. 6 Innovation: New Sources of Competition for Online Audiences
    (pp. 145-173)

    It is a new world when retail stores such as Toys “R”Us and Target get into the video streaming business. Even public libraries are offering streaming services for book, music, television, and film audiences. It is indicative of the volatile nature of the Internet economy that Amazon, the world’s largest online bookstore, is also positioning itself to compete for the online television audience. Time Warner, AMC Networks, CBS, and HBO all have their own video streaming services, but none come close to the market share of online audiences gained by Netflix and Hulu. Over half of American homes with broadband...

  11. 7 Disintermediation: The Political Economy of Television
    (pp. 174-205)

    I beganPost-TVwith a look at music piracy as the predecessor to the habits of the online television audience. Online piracy represents the most extreme state of content and audiences out of control. Cord cutters and cord nevers represent the worst possible audience trends for the cable television industry – viewers opting out of paying for cable television. Representatives of the entertainment industry and financial advisers insist that piracy will be reined in and cord-cutting will remain marginal, but the possibility of significant disruption due to uncontrolled digital plenitude remains.

    The television industry is aware of the changes taking...

  12. 8 Post-television Society: Diversity, Citizenship, News, and Global Conflict
    (pp. 206-228)

    The list of indictments brought against television is long: degraded self-esteem, sexism and misogynistic values, poor eating habits, the promotion of violence and racial stereotypes, hyper-consumption, a neoconservative war agenda, anti-Arab sentiment, polarized elections, increased inequality in political involvement, and much more. Of course television has also been a source of progressive values. Herein my purpose is not to revisit the debate between those who see television as a powerful source of capitalist ideologies and those who celebrate the superior interpretive powers of an active audience. Nevertheless, we are on safe ground when we attribute significant influence to dominant media...

  13. Conclusion: Post-television Culture
    (pp. 229-246)

    With each passing year in Canada and the United States cable prices are rising faster than the rate of inflation. Piracy is out of control and a younger generation is being socialized in the expectation that entertainment should be free. Meanwhile the audience is learning to flex political muscle and prevent any draconian closure of online freedoms. These phenomena represent an extraordinary matrix of forces. Yet the post-television age has not begun with a complete rupture of our collective viewing habits. Commercial television is an addiction that will not be quickly tossed aside like a dirty needle that pricked our...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 247-290)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 291-330)
  16. Index
    (pp. 331-348)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 349-350)