I first have to admit that I have spent a significant part of my life watching television and movies. It is part of who I am.
Hi, my name is Kelly and I consume massive amounts of media.
I have done a lot of other things in my life that I am proud of, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t watch some television or as of the last 15 years go to the internet. In the past 5 years the two have fused together for me. It is something that we talked about in my college media classes and what has been termed “convergence of modes.” No longer and I tied to surfing channels or looking at a TV Guide to see what I am going to digest for the daily meal of electronic signals transferring to my tube.
Growing up I always had a way of getting my movie fix. In the late 80s and into the 90s, my family only had over the air TV. I’d find my ways to get to see the movies I wanted. The people at the neighborhood movie theater and video stores knew me by name and often fed my need for consumption free of charge.
My wife and I have always been “budget-savvy.” I like that term better than frugal or even cheap when it comes to our personal entertainment. When we were first married 13 years ago we had the standard package for cable. No silly sports or movie packages that we had to pay for. We also had the Internet. Occasionally we would also rent a movie or two. Eventually we saw the opportunity for a change.
With more and more full episodes of TV shows appearing online, and the coming of Netflix, we jumped on the bandwagon. We ditched almost all of our cable and started what I would call a streaming lifestyle. If it weren’t for maintaining our current phone number that we have had for more than a decade and the use of the Internet, we would have no need for it at all.
In 2009, we joined Netflix and started using their streaming service. At $7-8 a month, it provided a major savings over the $50 a month cable bill. That, and even though there was some load time, it still cut down on the time it took to watch a show. 30 minute shows are now 22 minutes and 1 hour programs are now 42-50 minutes long due to the removal of the commercials. Imagine all the time I had lost to watching commercials!
With Netflix, I was able to get caught up on a lot of shows that I had missed over the previous decade while I was in college and working a lot. Shows that I had to wait a week to catch the next episodes to see, I was now devouring entire seasons in a week or two of time.
The other major convergence over the last decade for us has been with online shopping. That has continued to grow for our family. In 2012, Santa gave my son the gift of Amazon Prime to give him more opportunities for books to read through the Amazon book lending library. As a side effect, our family now has upgraded shipping with Amazon and access to their Amazon Prime Instant video library. That means more choices on what to stream!
There have only been two negatives to changing our viewing habits in this way. First, you are never up to date. Some of that water cooler chat of what happened on last nights game or episode is lost. As a matter of fact, you may not want to hear about it because it may be another 6 months to a year before that show hits one of the streaming networks. I found this to be the case when Breaking Bad was wrapping up. I started the show with cable and ended it streaming. I really did not want to read about the ending. Some of this has changed over the last year or two. With Netflix creating its own original content, the tides are changing. The weeks after the second season of House of Cards came out, a few of us at he office were talking about it like we would have if it had just been on TV the night before. Hopefully this trend will continue to grow.
Secondly, you are at the mercy of the Internet. No internet means you have to find something else. Not that it is always a bad thing, but because of it I know way too much about how fragile some of our Internet infrastructure is. I live in northeast Indiana. About 250 miles away there is a fiber cable that crosses a highway overhead. In the period of 18 months, that line was snapped about a dozen times. It cur off service to my provider’s customers in 4 states for about 9-12 hours at a time.
So, that is the story of how I got to this point in My Streaming Life.