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TV Isn't Broken, So Why Fix It?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-i-do-not-want-to-wear-3d-glasses-to-watch-tv dept.

Television 839

PolygamousRanchKid sends this quote from a contentious article at CNN that questions the need for further development of TVs and the entire TV-viewing experience. "The technology industry is absolutely bent on reinventing television. ... But nobody seems to be able to answer the big question: what exactly is so broken about TV anyway? The tech industry is filled with engineers and geeks. They naturally want to optimize the TV experience, to make it as efficient and elegant as possible, requiring the fewest number of steps to complete a particular task while offering the greatest number of amazing new features. But normal people don't think about TV that way. TV is passive. The last thing we want to do is work at it. ... As long as there's something on — anything — that is reasonably engaging, we're cool. Most of us are even OK spending a few minutes just shuffling through channels at random." So, what do you think is broken about TV right now? Is there a point at which it'd be better for us to stand back and say "We've done what we can with this. Let's work on something else"?

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TV ain't broken? (5, Insightful)

mholve (1101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269834)

Have you SEEN what's on TV?

Re:TV ain't broken? (2, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269920)

I don't watch much TV because I just don't have the time, but there's lots of good shows I'd like to watch. The Office, The Simpsons, Pan Am, How I Met Your Mother, Eureka, Conan, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest, Chuck... And I haven't even checked the news shows. And those are on top of the one or two I watch from my own country.

Then there's all of those on break, like Futurama and Californication... There's great amount of good shows to watch, so it isn't that.

Re:TV ain't broken? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270118)

Obviously, you don't have time because you have to create even more Slashdot accounts because you keep getting modded down for trolling CmdrPony.

Re:TV ain't broken? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269932)

Mine has a stack of books and a vase on it. Its ok, but not something I am inclined to stare at for long periods of time.

Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269984)

Apparently they don't care

As long as there's something on â" anything â" that is reasonably engaging, we're cool. Most of us are even OK spending a few minutes just shuffling through channels at random

That was acceptable when there was no other option, and when you were just wanting to relax for a while. There are much better alternatives now though. Even if those alternatives also involve just passively watching media, why should you settle just for something "reasonably engaging" - probably punctuated by ads every 10-15 minutes - when you have streaming options available? Even before I overcame my strange desire to build a collection of media, I much preferred simply buying everything outright than putting up with adverts. These days I'm happy with streaming and rentals.

Re:TV ain't broken? (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270172)

While I too tend to prefer buying a series and watching it straight through (I don't care about the advertisements, more the lack of waiting a week between each chunk), I also fondly remember the "sit back and casually watch whatever is on" thing.

Discovery channel, comedy central, and TLC (back when it was about learning and not decorating houses..) were great for this style of consumption.

Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270226)

TV is different from streaming in that content is pushed to you rather than pulled by you. Although I like the empowerment of pulling all my content pulling means that I mostly pull the content that is in my comfort zone and that I am already somewhat familiar with. Movies with actors I've enjoyed in the past or even that i've already seen and really enjoyed. The amount of exposure to new actors and new content is limited. For instance I will pull the latest season of dexter because I enjoy the show but I wouldn't be likely to pull the big bang theory because I've never seen it.

However with broadcast TV I might stumble onto the big bang theory and leave it on a few minutes and find I enjoy it. Then I can go download the rest and watch it marathon style without commercials if I so choose.

Re:TV ain't broken? (4, Interesting)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270034)

Advertising has been the driver behind commercial TV for decades. Money still pours in [] non-stop to commercial networks and some are looking to capitalize even more with product ordering forms [] in case you thought it couldn't get any worse.

Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270040)

That's a writing/funding problem, NOT a technical issue.

From a technical standpoint, TV has been fine for decades....

Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270052)

My response to the question as well. The problem with TV is not technology.

What is broken about TV is content. Direct TV is amazing! There are now 1000 channels, with nothing on. The technology improved this from 50, a mere decade ago.

I don't wan' a "History" channel that gives a platform to observe crackers welding hotrods, or a chance to watch "Like Water for Elephants" at 7.99 USD.

I am afraid to even ask about the listing: "Dave's Old Porn".

Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270124)

Dave's old porn is great. Think MST3K but to blurry porn

Re:TV ain't broken? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270294)

I don't even care that the "History" and "Discovery" channels show this stuff or dedicate hours to crackpot alien illuminati crap. What annoys me that they only have 4 or 5 shows and replay them marathon style over and over again. Seriously, the only time it is okay to play 4 episodes of the same thing back to back is if its the previous season and you are recapping before the new season.

Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Funny)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270070)

I've tried turning up the brightness knob, but it's just as stupid as it ever was.

Re:TV ain't broken? (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270090)

It's actually starting to improve..

There are some honest to god sitcoms popping up. Still not worth getting my cable back yet, but it at least looks like the reality TV thing is starting to fade.

Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Interesting)

Blind RMS Groupie (218389) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270186)

Yea, it's been a vast wasteland [] for the past 50 years.

I got rid of mine (2)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270228)

Don't miss it.

Re:TV ain't broken? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270266)


Re:TV ain't broken? (5, Insightful)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270296)

Exactly. You know the saying there are 500+ channels and nothing is on.

For me TV is broken because I should be able to watch anything I want when I want.

I should be able to click on the TV and watch any episode of the original Star Trek (for example) at any time (it would also be nice to have a 'you may also enjoy', or 'related' to learn about things I may not be familiar with in the genre [or, perish the thought, new programs in development])

TV should be at my control 'for my entertainment', not treat me as a passive audience for what ever is programmed at whatever time.

(Yes, I realize this is probably not a realistic expectation. I am also aware of the wide array of recording devices, Tivo, etc as well as Movie streaming devices. (Roku, etc) I also realize that the blocker in my vision is more about licensing then technology, still, this is how I would like 'TV' to work)

First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269846)

First post

It's broken for me (5, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269856)

I can't imagine life without a PVR, being a slave to some executives scheduling decisions is no way to lead your life. It also helps that my PVR includes comskip so I spend 1/3rd less time watching tv and my kids aren't bombarded by relentless advertising.

Re:It's broken for me (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269914)

Oh you're not the only one, but for me it's a different reason. There's simply nothing on. I own a TV, it's 15 years old, it's a hand me down from my parents who thought I needed one. I think I turned it on last about 5 years ago, I'm pretty sure it still works. But, what's broken? It's not the TV, it's what's on TV.

Re:It's broken for me (4, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269992)

If you haven't turned the TV on in five years, how can you know the shows aren't worth watching? Or are you just rambling the way old people always do "things were so much better before"...

Re:It's broken for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270138)

Lulz, Com'on everyone knows that Firefox 3.6 or 3.X was the best to ever be and will ever be. Oh wait, you are talking about television sets.

Re:It's broken for me (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270082)

For me it's both.

Well actually I watch a few series that are currently running (plus the odd documentaries), so it's not that there's nothing on, it's just that it's a tiny fraction of the shows you get on TV, showing at odd and inconvenient times. Pretty crappy deal considering the subscription fees AND ads.

Re:It's broken for me (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269986)

PVR? Is that like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and The Pirate Bay combined?

Re:It's broken for me (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270134)

If you have TPB what do you need the other two for? :D

Re:It's broken for me (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270142)

Yes but about $16/month less. If you don't have a spouse then dropping cable might be an acceptable solution but mine wouldn't allow it as she is often like what the article describes, just wanting to veg out, plus you lose sports with your solution which might not matter for some geeks but it matters for me.

Re:It's broken for me (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270104)

I not only can imagine life without a PVR, I've been living one for some time.

Of course, I also recently tossed out my TV because I wasn't watching it anymore. I gave it up a long time ago, and have never regretted it.

What Indeed (4, Insightful)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269868)

What is so broken about TV? It isnt giving tv manufacturers ample reason to charge onbcene ammounts for a new tv.

Now a 3-d tv, thats a good reason to spend 2k on right?


Tied to a time and place (5, Insightful)

Sez Zero (586611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269872)

TV is broken because, with a few exceptions, content is tied to a specific time and location.

I want to be able to watch my favorite shows when I remember I want to watch them, not a time set by someone else. I also don't always want to watch them from home.

Take away Tivo, Slingbox, etc and these things are not possible.

Re:Tied to a time and place (3, Interesting)

Deb-fanboy (959444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270286)

TV is broken because, with a few exceptions, content is tied to a specific time and location.

I agree

TV is a system where the broadcaster pushes content at you according to their schedule

Entertainment on the Internet on the other hand is largely a system where the user pulls content when they wish to use it.

People prefer to pull content when and where the want rather than have it pushed at them. For that reason, in the long term, TV will lose out to internet based entertainment

Same thing with HD and 3D. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269882)

I was happy, and still am, with my 26" standard-def. It's a later model so it has a built-in digital tuner.

Re:Same thing with HD and 3D. (2)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270044)

So am I. It's got enough inputs that I can hook up my Playstation, VCR/DVD and my PVR so I just don't need anything else. When this one eventually dies, obviously I get something more up to date. But I don't watch sport, and don't own a Blu-ray player so I just don't need either 3d or HD.

TV isn't relevant, so why care? (-1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269904)

People still watch TV?

Re:TV isn't relevant, so why care? (2)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270028)

Yes, almost everyone watches TV. Even more so outside the geeks, but even most geeks download and watch their favorite TV shows.

advertising (5, Insightful)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269936)

The only thing broken about TV is the massive proportion of it dedicated to advertising instead of actual content.

Re:advertising (5, Insightful)

DaffyDuck101 (247015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270114)

The advertising IS the actual content. What's in between is just there to keep you watching between ads.

Re:advertising (3, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270162)

This is one of the great things about the BBC. A dozen or so channels, with *no adverts*. None. Masses of good radio channels, too, again with no adverts.

Re:advertising (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270168)

Which is why this article about "improving" TV is so stupid... without constant improvements, we wouldn't have had the VCR, and now DVRs to skip past commercials. Even when I sit down and see something on live television I'm interested in, I often just hit pause and do something else for a little while so that I can skip past commercials.

My $100 bluray player gives me access to hulu and netflix, among others... no $1500 investment needed.

Finally, if people want to spend $2k+ on 3D televisions, then that's great. I won't... it's not that I wouldn't like one, it's that they cost too much. The more people that buy them now, the less expensive they'll get in the future. I don't mind waiting... and I welcome all these people trying to "improve" TV.

The Middleman is Unnecessary (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269946)

The part which is broken is the networks and cable companies, who add nothing but get between the consumer and the content creators. Those who decide which content gets produced with our money, and who enforce regional distribution restrictions, exclusive digital streaming rights.

Re:The Middleman is Unnecessary (2)

FoolishBluntman (880780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270240)

I agree, the middlemen is not only unnecessary but are making life more difficult and trying to justify their existence.
I want to want shows when I want them without commercials and I'm willing to pay for that.
I have a DVR on Cox Cable and Netflix on my PS3. Shows that are on HBO and Showtime are available the next day on HBO and Showtime HD indemand so I don't bother recording them. I only use the DVR for broadcast shows that include commercials.

The basic problem is this, broadcast television is an anachronism that hasn't died yet but will soon.
The technology vendors(Google, Apple, Netflix, Hulu, etc ) are lining up to deliver a good content experience because the broadcaster (CBS,NBC,ABC, FOX, etc) haven't done it.

Well... for starters... (5, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269960)

I'll take a crack at this.

It's expensive as hell.
The cost exaggerates how much crap there is to sift through to find anything worth watching.
Often the "worth watching" query comes back empty.
The STB's are universally awful.
Even if you DVR and FFwd, the commercials are an annoyance.

I'm sure there's more... but that's what I can think of off the top of my head.

Re:Well... for starters... (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270074)

How is it "expensive as hell?" It's $20 for an indoor antenna, and the cost of electricity to run it.

If you only want to watch a few hours a week (as opposed to 5-8 or more hours a day, which is insane if you're not an invalid), there's more than enough on.

Re:Well... for starters... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270224)

Only if you can get an antennae to catch the broadcasts. I get clear reception for only *one* over-the-air channel where I live, in the suburbs of a major metropolis.

Re:Well... for starters... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270298)

I havent watched prime channels(ABC,CBS,NBC) in nearly a decade. An over the air anttenna would be a waste.

I only watcch about five stations but do make extensive use of video on demand services

Re:Well... for starters... (5, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270080)

Oh, and the part that really gets me... to go from 1 show worth watching to 2 shows worth watching, you'll need to up your package with another 30 awful channels for an additional $20 in MRC.

And want to watch on another TV? That'll be another $5-10 a month.

Oh and don't pick a movie from the on demand, you'll have to mortgage the house and you'll only have access for the next 24-48 hours.

Re:Well... for starters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270196)

Posting anon because I shouldn't keep replying to myself... but I'm starting to use /. like a wiki on the subject.

"Oh you wanted a few of those channels in HD? That's a $10 monthly upcharge."

Oh right, and I can't watch the DVR'd content anywhere but on the STB.

Re:Well... for starters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270136) solves your issues if you dont mind waiting a few hours after it first airs.

Re:Well... for starters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270212)

You left out that hassle of having 4 different remotes to control all the various devices. You can be that this is one of the issues Apple intends to deal with.

Commercials. (4, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269962)

Commercials, among other things. Because everything has to be dumbed down to gain mass market appeal and advertising dollars, there is a real lack of quality programming. But hopefully we may see the internet change all that, once all the DMCA type shenanigans come to an end, and people figure out that you can still charge for content even if people steal it.

Re:Commercials. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270250)

How on earth do you anticipate getting programming without commercials without a subscription service? Do you think the production companies make television programs for fun?

Until we solve the problem of scarce resources, TV without commercials or paying subscriptions will be beyond our grasp.

Re:Commercials. (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270274)

I don't know if the internet will really save us.

The same problem applies to the internet as applies to cable. Good quality programming, while in some cases can be cheap if done by some dedicated people, tends to cost money. As such, you need a way to profit (which usually means advertising). Advertising tends to be more effective and hit more eyes as intelligence down.

The Internet lowers the bar for distribution and lets people get their stuff out there for a lot less, but I don't think we'll be seeing Connections quality programming again unless something very dramatic changes in the way the world functions.

Simple... (5, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269968)

Too many fake reality shows. Way too many. Less Jersey Shore, Lady Hoggers, and the like, and it will be just fine.

TV is/isn't broken? (1)

RHoltslander (2132652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269970)

Well I'm not getting one just to find out if the conjecture is true. I don't care one way or the other.

Commercials, presenters and quiz shows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269976)

Can't put it more succinctly. I may have forgotten a few eyesores,though.

More control (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269978)

Because it is passive, they cannot measure the degree of effectiveness of their mass control initiatives, resulting in more time and money spent to repeat the message enough to guarantee assimilation. They want ways of getting feedback.

simple - lack of control / options (5, Insightful)

forgottenusername (1495209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269990)

Why should I pay for a bunch of channels and service I don't want?

If they offered modular, on demand service I wouldn't have to monkey around with xbmc, encoding etc.

Services like on-demand streaming of movies/tv where you pay exactly what you want are the future. The cable company can't let go of their monolithic 'screw you cuz we can & always have' thinking. Eventually they will go the way of the labels as far as monopoly via audio CD's - technology will evolve past them (already is/has) and they'll just be left waving their wizened fists angrily, struggling for relevance and trying to screw people over with control of cable internet.

Country (5, Interesting)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269994)

I want to see channels from any country, in any country.

That's all.

Problem with TV is.. (4, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269998)

... fixed schedules and they show only the content that will get them the most (average) viewers. So programs cater to the lowest common denominator. You can't simply just watch what you want to when you want to relatively (obnoxious) ad free.

The great thing about the internet is you can find old shows like cartoons and whatnot from earlier in your life that no network will broadcast anymore. As bad as content industries make 'piracy' out to be, they can no longer forcibly send old shows offline permanently (which is a good thing). If anything piracy will be a great boon to future historians of entertainment, the arts and humanity generally speaking.

Mode and Complexity (5, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270000)

Primarily the mode of delivery. It made sense that the internet would piggyback on existing infrastructure (cable and telephone) but the tables have now turned, and it would make more sense to piggyback TV on a line specifically meant for Internet (fiber).

Complexity is an interesting one. Modern TVs are freaking complicated. My grandfathers set blew about 2 years ago so I helped get him a new one. Trying to find a larger screen TV that doesn’t require a geek to operate is pretty damn hard. There would seem to be a huge market for people that just want something you turn on, change volume, change channel, turn off. Even if you get a geek (like me) to set it up for you, you still end up with either multiple remotes (one for TV/one for digital box, one for DVD player) or a just as complicated “smart remote” that kinda works.

Some very basic functionality that should exist (but I haven’t seen) would be that the TV should detect a signal on an input and auto switch to it via some kind of hierarchy. Turn on the DVD player.. input should go to that.. turn it off.. back to digital box.. turn that off, back to analog cable. This seems basic and maybe it has been done, but when I looked I couldn’t find a TV that supported this.

What's broken about TV? The content. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270006)

What's broken about TV? This: the vast majority of the content is utter crap pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Re:What's broken about TV? The content. (1, Redundant)

tesdalld (2428496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270050)

Instead of ranting and wasiting my time typing up a meaningful comment, i'll just agree with this user.

Bad Interface (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270016)

The channel system is a lousy user interface. Clearly efforts towards on-demand programming, channel guides, and such offered by cable and other providers are a big improvement over the old pure channel system. However, the interfaces are still way behind the kind of useability you see in smart phones, PCs, etc. The technology is here now to make these systems far better. Unfortunately, cable companies and the Bells are nothing more than "last mile" providers incapable of proving the innovation required.

Passivity (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270020)

TV is fundamentally broken because it is completely passive. This is what advertisers and media companies love about it, though, and this is why they are pushing hard to break the Internet and turn computers into TV 2.0.

They've succeeded partially, seen in the acceptance of the term "media consumption device" which is being used to cover virtually all of the new mobile space (and a point to shout down people who like to tinker, and in defense of DRM and lock-down.)

Thing is... (1)

abroadwin (1273704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270024)

So much of our commercial world is dictated by one idea: people don't know what they want. You think you're perfectly happy with your TV... until we make it better.

Terrible lack of foresight. (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270036)

But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most TV viewers simply won't care enough about any of this stuff to shell out $1,500 for a new Apple TV, or spend a few hundred bucks and countless hours fiddling around adding a new box to their TV set and figuring out how it works.

It's true... on top of the cost of the TV, I'm not going to spend $1500, or anything near that much, to "improve" TV... but that doesn't mean I (and most average people) wont' spend anything. Tivo was a great start; my DVR is integrated into my satellite system now, but I also have a $100 bluray player that gives me Hulu and Netflix access (among others).

If people ("geeks") weren't spending so much effort on improving TV, I wouldn't be able to have that for $100 bucks (or less) now.

Re:Terrible lack of foresight. (3, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270314)

Even Apple knows that you wouldn't spend $1500 for an Apple TV. That's probably why that product is $100.

Set-top boxes (5, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270048)

The thing most broken about TVs today is the blasted set-top box.

Maybe in the living room it's ok to have an "entertainment center" with all sorts of electronic boxes wired together, and to have multiple remote controls, or spend $$ to buy something like a Logitech Harmony. But for every TV you've got?

For the past few weeks Comcast has been putting the "You're not doing this right." messages on some channels on my TV. It looked like it might be merely "going digital", but last week I did a rescan on a digital TV, and didn't find the channels that warn. I'll rescan again Wednesday, after the switchover, but I'm not optimistic. So now the second TV (which actually is digital, unlike the "first TV") is about to need some sort of extra box, extra remote, and of course when the extra box is active we won't be able to get the broadcast HD channels without extra fiddling, etc. (Or we could spend more $$$ for an HD set-top box, etc.)

THAT's what's broken about TV - and I don't see Apple TV or any of these other gizmos fixing that, unless they accept CableCard.

Oh yeah, this upcoming change is going to break MythTV, or at least badly decrease its usefulness.

And 640K is enough for everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270054)

There's always room for improvement. Biggest improvement would be to remove some of the protections for media providers so that consumers have the choices they want.

What's broken? (4, Insightful)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270056)


How's a TV manufacturer supposed to get more money if people aren't buying new TVs/their current doesn't have planned obsolescence?
Then there's that pesky "internet" that's killing the cable cash cow.

Program scheduling ... (1)

crackerjack911 (49510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270062)

is the most broken idea in the TV landscape. With current systems, its hard to know if there really isn't anything on or if you're just missing out on that one thing you always wanted to see. I need TV to intelligently learn what I like. Just because I watch that one lousy infomercial that drunk night after the bar doesn't mean thats all I enjoy to watch.

On the other side, I don't need to talk to my TV or flail my arms like an idiot trying to get it to flip channels. I don't see anything wrong with the remote as it exists as an interface tool.

It's just on. (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270068)

About half of TV is not "watched". It's just "on". (Radio is almost entirely in the "just on" mode today.) A sizable, although shrinking, fraction of the population likes the rigid schedule of TV shows.

3D TV was an awful idea. Everything, including the viewer, has to be positioned properly for it to work. If you lie down on the couch watching a 3D TV, you will have an eyestrain-inducing experience as your eyes try to converge on misaligned images.

Geek want to destroy television... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270076)

as punishment for canceling firefly and arrested development.

TV itself isn't 'broken' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270078)

TV isn't broken. Everything that around it seems to be. Buggy PVR firmware. Multiple screen formats requiring manual intervention. Broadcasters changing timeslots willy-nilly. Series haitus/disappearing/etc. The poster is right. I just want to watch my TV and not have to think in the process. If I want to think I'll go use my computer.

needs targetted ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270096)

How many times have you fellow guys seen the same ad for feminine hygiene products in the same hour.
I think the experience would work better if the system was intelligent enough to target the ads at individual watchers or at least households.
I'm a skinny guy who doesn't drive; I don't need to see ads for weigh watchers, menstrual pads, or the latest car.
Show me a great ad for the latest tablet, solar panels, etc, and I might not head to the kitchen to make a sandwich.

What isn't wrong with TV? (1)

stickyboot (845510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270098)

The shows mostly suck. You have to slog through adds. I don't know when anything is on. Its different everywhere you go. The remotes and interfaces are terribly designed. For the most part, the TV, receiver and media players don't talk to each other. Thats why I stopped watching. I want to watch whatever I want, whenever I want, without adds. If someone can provide that for REASONABLE prices I would pay, but until that happens, I guess its up to me to figure out plus a copy of XBMC.

USB (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270106)

What's broken is being unable to play my AVI files directly from my USB on my TV, but thank goodness I can view my photos.

It's not the TV (1)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270108)

It's what's *on* the TV that's the problem. I realized the other day that I don't watch a single TV show on the 3 major networks, I don't even really know or care what's on their schedules anymore really, and only one on Fox, The Simpsons. The few other shows I watch like Breaking Bad, Justified, Curb, Daily Show, Colbert, are all on cable. Although the dearth of quality TV can be a good thing as well, I'm no longer tempted to veg out on the couch anymore.

Piano (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270120)

I'm a pianist. One thing that occurs to me is that the space where many households once had a piano, now that exact space is occupied by a television set. I'm referring to very specific homes, old homes where I know that essentially the floor plan was created in order for there to be space for a piano, often a grand piano. The amount of space that a television occupies includes seating and line-of-sight. In many houses it may easily be the largest allocation of space, even more than some bedrooms and garages. People take it for granted. I'm actually happy for this, since it means I can usually count on having space for my 6' grand piano, but that also means that television, if I bother with it at all, is always an afterthought. I tend to get into TV whenever war breaks out, and sometimes during election cycles, otherwise nothing.

It is not TV. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270150)

The problem is with the way media is distributed. In my opinion you should turn on the TV and see a couple channels with different stuff on them, a nice improvement would be selecting what you want to see, if you want to add stuff like web browsing you are going away from TV and adding features that belong somewhere else (not saying it wouldn’t be a welcome improvement).

But TV should be just streaming media, not the primary distribution channel of media, you can turn on the TV to see programs being streamed but the media itself should be accessible in a better way.

Reality Television... (1)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270170) everything that is wrong with television in a nutshell.


Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270176)

That's what needs to be fixed. Buying 1300 channels of S*** on the TV to choose from (Pink Floyd x100!!!) just so I can get 5 that I actually want to watch is bullpoopey. That would revolutionize it. I don't need a new experience, device, UI, blah, blah, or blah... I want to subscribe to the channels I actually watch. Better yet, make it super stupid easy to favorite them so I can flip through just those. Oh how I hate the trash between the stations I like. And then there are the DEAD stations I don't subscribe to but show up in my guide anyway -- and are accessible just by hitting the Ch +/- button.

Hey, TV/movie/broadcast folks. You want to know why your crap gets pirated?! Lame cable plans from the 1980s is why! Catch up! Give people what they want, not what you think you want them to have!

The only thing broken is almost everything (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270178)

The model itself.

Originally it was said it'd be subsidized by ads. Try running a stopwatch during least ten years ago you could get nearly 45% or more advertising in movies, and 30% plus in 30 minute specials.

In theory--cable would cover this cost. Except instead you just get more channels with the same unsolicited bulk broadcast.

To go away from that, you need...oh... pay per view. Costs as much as renting the fucking thing, plus delivery.

Or you can get HBO or cinemax which at a minimum of about 15 a month is near worthless assuming you want to watch a movie once a week, but are only a 1 in 4 chance of enjoying any given movie.

So you get to pay about $100 a month or more in order to have irrelevant ads slung at you. And then you have that nice awkward experience of sitting down to watch something with your parents when a 'little blue pill' commercial comes on. Or a public service announcement. Or somebody asking for my money to feed children so they can take their 80% administrative fee.

Let's try to sum up the problems with TV:
    - too much advertisement
    - not enough relevant content
    - cable top boxes making it hard to space shift in my home
    - artificial difficulty in time and space shifting
    - viagra
    - inability to watch when I want
    - insufficient box office content
    - serials pushed all over the fucking place by sports
    - networks moving things to different times, days, or even other networks
    - reruns.
    - It's damned near impossible to get a tv guide in paper.
    - The digital tv guides don't work reliably unless you have a cable box (and those are hard to scan quickly since the boxes are slow)
    - Oh yeah, the boxes are slow
    - A thousand other things

Please, can we just brutally fucking murder the entertainment industry for holding something that was a simple, easy, functional service utilizing public spectrum utterly hostage?

TV is so bad I've stopped watching it entirely. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270180)

I rent the shows through netflix or something if they're worth it but otherwise I'd rather do almost anything else.

This is the twenty first century. Get with the program. DVRs are just the start. Really, DVRs are a stop gap between what we have now and full video on demand service.

And that's really where it needs to go. Television stations as they exist need to go away entirely. We don't need them. Instead, the shows can stand on their own as video on demand streams that can be pulled down at any time. The stations then would be more like movie studios in that they make the television shows but you don't really think about the studio when you go to see the movie. You think about the writers, the actors, or the story. But the station is irrelevant.

So there you go... that's just off the top of my head. TV as it stands right now is tragically antiquated and needs to go fully digital and fully asynchronous. Once that happens they won't feel the need to fill 24 hours of programming every day. Instead, they'll focus on creating shows people ACTUALLY want to watch. That doesn't mean they'll be good but people will actually want to see them. And shows no one wants to watch will suffer the same fate as movies that no one wants to watch. They'll die and good riddance.

About the only stations that make sense outside of this context are 24 hour news stations, live sports, and C-Span. Everything else should be chopped up into video on demand streams and sold/packaged individually with no link to anything else.

its still pretty broken (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270184)

You should be able to find the show you want instantly without having to scroll some large channel database. Or worse let it scroll for you.

You should be able to get it when you want. But on-demand is a higher tier service here, approaching $100 a month.

It should be free like the old broadcast days. Most cable channels have plenty of advertisers.

Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270194)

The overabundance of lawyers in media companies is what's broken with TV. Without all the lawyers, it'd be the greatest invention ever!

what isnt broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270198)

Here's what I want in a tv
A device with instant included access to every show/movie, available anytime.
With options to sort by people, place,genre,rating as well as "channels" which are peoles picks of movies and shows something like pandora. Have all this included into tv so no box is needed as well. And a tv that's smart enough that if I turn on bluray/dvd player it had better go to the correct input automattivally. Oh and while we are wishing the ability to get its signal wirelessly for those who's cable hookup is in a brain dead location.

Schedule conformity... (3, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270204)

The way TV currently works I'm asked to conform to a schedule set by an Exec that thinks will bring in the most eyeballs. When I was growing up (before we had a VCR) we would schedule our lives around what TV shows we wanted to watch. I remember that Monday was usually take out or quick meal night because that's when my mom wanted to watch her shows. New TV shows were introduced after the old ones we already liked. How many sitcoms were stuck in the spot after "Friends" in the hope that it would draw people too lazy to change the channel?

My setup right now is SickBeard to Sabnzbd+ to XBMC. I paid $50 for a block of 1TB that I've been using since the middle of last year. I don't know and I don't care when most of the TV shows I watch are on. My TV time is usually midnight to 4 am. I'm in grad school, work and do a ton of other stuff on campus (Swing Club, international cooking classes, hang out with friends).

Every TV show I currently watch has come from a suggestion from a friend, Slashdot, Reddit, or Fark. To avoid the disappointment that follows numerous shows I usually wait until the 3rd or 4th season to get into them. I just started Dexter this year. I watched all previous seasons in the span of 3-4 months. I literally just started Farscape. Breaking Bad, Community, Game of Thrones, It's Always Sunny, Chuck, etc. All came from suggestions.

Then you have "Well if it's not in the #1 spot, it's failing" mentality of broadcast TV. Community is one of my favorite shows. Season 1 had me in stitches with some of the episodes. I lost it at the first Halloween episode when Abed was Batman. But NBC decided to bench it so "Whitney" and some other female comedian can get a boilerplated TV show. Cable TV is much better. HBO & Showtime seemingly don't care their global rankings but more about if they can get a core group of die hard fans. But those are "premium" channels and I'm sure as hell not going to pay $100+ a month to get them (because you need to add all the other channels I don't want). Chuck was brought back by a fan campaign and I'm glad taht it's going to get a proper final season but NBC seems intent to kill it anyway I heard they shifted it to something like Fridays. Because 18-30 year olds aren't doing anything else on Fridays? Seriously.

Give me a legal torrent seconds after the TV show ends leave in the commercials and I'll watch it. But until then I can't imagine going back to "Oh, this airs Thursdays at 4"

nothing to watch (1)

statsone (1981504) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270216)

no new content. Repeats and repeats. Endless whole days showing the same show to fill air time. The shows shown on all the other cable channels owned by the same company. End the monopoly of cable and satellite companies owing the TV shows, cables shows, and internet access. Break up the companies and allow more choice.

My list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270220)

Here's my list of what's wrong with TV:

- Shows are only on at certain times
- I don't/can't get all the channels I want
- I'm forced to get channels I don't want
- Having to know what channel or network a show is on makes it hard to find shows
- The current methods of advertising make watching extremely annoying
- The traditional options for getting additional programming are way too expensive, enrich horrible companies, and often involve also getting more ads
- Using any method other than over-the-air (which has its own issues) involves dealing with companies that are anti-consumer (charge too much, want to limit what I can see and where I can see it, are actively trying to block my access to other content, etc.)

I now have several devices to help me avoid using TV as it was intended, and they make it much easier. They find shows regardless of time, channel, or network. They offer me shows that aren't on networks I can receive. They let me watch the show any time I want, even years after the show has gone off the air. They let me skip ads or don't show them in the first place.

The biggest problem isn't the tech, or what engineers are trying to do with it. It's the content providers and distributers who spend every waking minute trying to screw their users over.

The US subscription model is the most broken thing (4, Interesting)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270222)

This comment only applies to the USA. It may or may not apply to other countries.

Here in the USA we basically have to pay some provider a monthly subscription fee. Yes, you can try to watch over the air (OTA) TV for free if you are lucky enough to get a good signal where you live, but the channels are very limited. So we get suckered into buying more channels than we want just to get the channels we do want. For example, you may want one particular sports channel but you have to buy 15 different ones in a package to get it and you'll never watch the other channels. TV providers fear letting customers buy channels a la carte as they know that their income would plummet. Off the top of my head I would think that most people would probably be happy with paying a lot less money for only 20-30 channels if they could pick those individual channels themselves. I have to admit that I have just about reached my limit with TV charges and another rate increase might just make me drop the whole thing and resort to cheaper alternatives to watch the shows I want to see at a later date and time. Some people argue that "Oh if you switched from cable to satellite" or vice-versa that you would "save a lot of money" but the reality is that once the introductory offers expire, the prices are pretty much the same whoever you get your TV from. What we really need in the USA is a way to drive down the costs to the consumers to subscribe in a way that doesn't take away our favorite channels. As long as the providers are able to get away with avoiding a la carte pricing, they've got us trapped.

However, I have to say that I am not at all an Apple fanboy, but I am really impressed at how Apple took mobile telephones and pads and turned them into something actually useful that were generations ahead of earlier attempts to do so. It's been rumored for some time that "Apple TV" is going to debut next year and I am curious to see if Steve Jobs figured out something on TVs that Apple can make better in a way they did for portable music players, mobile phones and pads.

The programming (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270234)

There is absolutely nothing worth watching.

What's broken with TV. . . (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270238)

  • Not easy to interface third party DVRs, computers, etc to cable boxes/cable systems. Cable card seems a broken and dead standard. Wouldn't be a problem except encryption means you can't just hook any potential HD TV equipment you might have to the cable and expect it to be able to receive all channels.
  • Still based around a temporal "broadcast" paradigm of "you watch it when we air it or you have to record it yourself for later viewing". Why not make all TV on-demand (except for, perhaps, special news coverage in an emergency, live speeches, etc (and even those could be made available on-demand afterwords). There has been some progress towards on-demand TV by cable operators, but still doesn't cover all programming.
  • I have to pay for channels I never watch and don't want. Please un-bundle tv channels. I'd like to take it a step further and have reasonable prices for individual shows/series. I mean, maybe I want to watch one series from HBO or Showtime or AMC or whoever, but don't care about the rest of their programming. Why can't I pay for access to just that series, and to be able to watch past seasons, etc?
  • High-Def-Copy-Protection (HDCP). Seriously, I hate DRM. I'm not trying to rip off the TV companies. I just want to be able to watch HD movies and TV shows which I've legally payed for and acquired access to, on my circa 2006 computer monitor, from my computer, without having to buy a *different* monitor, just because my "old" monitor doesn't support HDCP.

Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Te (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270254)

Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television

CHAPEL HILL, NC–Area resident Jonathan Green does not own a television, a fact he repeatedly points out to friends, family, and coworkers–as well as to his mailman, neighborhood convenience-store clerks, and the man who cleans the hallways in his apartment building.

Jonathan Green, who tells as many people as possible that he is "fully weaned off the glass teat."

"I, personally, would rather spend my time doing something useful than watch television," Green told a random woman Monday at the Suds 'N' Duds Laundromat, noticing the establishment's wall-mounted TV. "I don't even own one."

According to Melinda Elkins, a coworker of Green's at The Frame Job, a Chapel Hill picture-frame shop, Green steers the conversation toward television whenever possible, just so he can mention not owning one.

"A few days ago, [store manager] Annette [Haig] was saying her new contacts were bothering her," Elkins said. "The second she said that, I knew Jonathan would pounce. He was like, 'I didn't know you had contacts, Annette. Are your eyes bad? That a shame. I'm really lucky to have almost perfect vision. I'm guessing it's because I don't watch TV. In fact, I don't even own one."

According to Elkins, "idiot box" is Green's favorite derogatory term for television.

"He uses that one a lot," she said. "But he's got other ones, too, like 'boob tube' and 'electronic babysitter.'"

Elkins said Green always makes sure to read the copies of Entertainment Weekly and People lying around the shop's break room, "just so he can point out all the stars and shows he's never heard of."

"Last week, in one of the magazines, there was a picture of Calista Flockhart," Elkins said, "and Jonathan announced, 'I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. Calista who? Am I supposed to have heard of her? I'm sorry, but I haven't.'"

Tony Gerela, who lives in the apartment directly below Green's and occasionally chats with the 37-year-old by the mailboxes, is well aware of his neighbor's disdain for television.

"About a week after I met him, we were talking, and I made some kind of Simpsons reference," Gerela said. "He asked me what I was talking about, and when I told him it was from a TV show, he just went off, saying how the last show he watched was some episode of Cheers, and even then, he could only watch for about two minutes before having to shut it off because it insulted his intelligence so terribly."

Added Gerela: "Once, I made the mistake of saying I saw something on the news, and he started in with, 'Saw the news? I don't know about you, but I read the news."

Green has lived without television since 1989, when his then-girlfriend moved out and took her set with her.

"When Claudia went, the TV went with her," Green said. "But instead of just going out and buying another one–which I certainly could have afforded, that wasn't the issue–I decided to stand up to the glass teat."

"I'm not an elitist," Green said. "It's just that I'd much rather sculpt or write in my journal or read Proust than sit there passively staring at some phosphorescent screen."

"If I need a fix of passive audio-visual stimulation, I'll go to catch a Bergman or Truffaut film down at the university," Green said. "I certainly wouldn't waste my time watching the so-called Learning Channel or, God forbid, any of the mind sewage the major networks pump out."

Continued Green: "People don't realize just how much time their TV-watching habit–or, shall I say, addiction–eats up. Four hours of television a day, over the course of a month, adds up to 120 hours. That's five entire days! Why not spend that time living your own life, instead of watching fictional people live theirs? I can't begin to tell you how happy I am not to own a television."

The article has a major fundamental flaw. (5, Insightful)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270272)

A thing does not have to be "broken" in order for change/progress to be made. Telephones weren't "broken" when cellular phones were invented, and the horse drawn carriage wasn't "broken" when the automobile was invented. It isn't broken, companies are just trying to make money by making progress in a technology that people are interested in.

VOD - and not the onDemand crap (3, Insightful)

kakris (126307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270278)

There is absolutely no reason in with today's technology that we can't have real video on demand. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to watch any show I want, whenever I want. If the providers want to include commercials, then so be it, but they're delaying the inevitable and forcing people into piracy with limited availability of programming online and by only allowing viewing within a limited window. The major television providers now offer "on demand" services, but these have serious limitations. All they're doing is giving people a taste for what could be. A cable company that offered true video on demand could absolutely clean up in the market, but the content providers are far to unwilling to shift their business models to match the desires of consumers. 50 years from now, children will express disbelief when told that you had to wait for a specific time to watch your favorite program, much like I had a hard time I had as a child grasping that television used to be only black and white.

Commercials and On-Demand (4, Insightful)

apdyck (1010443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270282)

The very fundamental principle of using television as a revenue generator is broken. I would gladly pay for a service that allowed me to watch whatever shows I wanted, when I wanted, with no commercial interruption. I am not willing to pay for a service that forces me to watch three minutes out of ten of commercials, and I certainly don't like to adjust my viewing schedule to accomodate the shows I want to watch! It is much easier for me to download shows and watch them later than it is for me to be in front of my television while they are being broadcast. If I want to watch a live event, such as a sports game, I can always head to the local pub and watch it there. I currently have basic cable and I pay ten dollars a month for it. The only reason I have that is that I purchase my internet through the cable company and, even paying $120 for the whole year, I was able to save a bunch of money on my Internet services ($300 off over three months, plus a 5% discount on my total bill, that amounts to a savings of $240 over the course of a year). I rarely turn it on. Not even for sporting events. Fix the delivery system and make it more accessible. Charge based on what you watch, rather than what channels you watch. If I was charged $0.25-0.50 per show I watched I would be inclined to watch more. But paying a monthly fee for a bunch of stuff I will never watch? Not worth the money.

TV Must Not Die (3, Informative)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270292)

It is very important that TV continues to exist as it is, as well as PVRs. Otherwise, people won't be able to upload the good tv series on usenet so I can download commercial-free episodes and watch them on my PS3.

House, the Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, the Mentalist, Supernatural, Storage Wars, Dexter: good entertainment for about 400MB/hour (I don't care much for HD).

A good usenet provider with a decent retention is not free (maybe 10$/month) but the insanely fast download combined with the excellent filtering provided by hand-crafted search engines (such as Nzbmatrix or Newzbin) is worth it. And for the poor people, I think there is some stuff available on P2P (if you don't mind getting some weird midget porn when you look for Disney content), but I find it slow and dirty.

right question, wrong audience? (3, Insightful)

bazorg (911295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270304)

"So, what do you think is broken about TV right now? "

I'm a spectator so maybe that question could be answered by a different type of stakeholder. The stakeholder who might be interested in using the Kinect to ensure that adverts stop while the spectators go to the toilet; or that stakeholder who wants internet streaming to be protected from skipping the commercials. That stakeholder will find plenty things broken in the current state of the TV technology.

I dunno... (1)

emagery (914122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270306)

I've kept the promise to myself that I won't be buying another TV until I can literally roll it onto an entire wall like wallpaper. The precursors to that technology already exist, so there's plenty of room in perfecting and economizing the concept.
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