In November of 2003, I unplugged my television, put it in a garage and with that I was done watching programmed TV.
We had some great times together. Saturday morning cartoons, the Thunderbirds, the Flip Wilson Show, the introduction of MTV, Michael Jackson's moonwalk, the Eddie Murphy era of Saturday Night Live, the Cosby Show.
By the time we got to the 1990s and 2000s, our relationship had lost that loving feeling. With a few exceptions, like West Wing, the Daily Show or Space Ghost, I didn't really have any shows that constituted Must-See-TV.
It wasn't just the state of television--chair-throwing reality shows and yelling, lying political shows like FOX News, but the sound of television began to annoy me and I couldn't just sit and watch whatever was on as I had done since I was a kid.
Instead of a whole meal of television. I started going a la carte.
The incident that ended the fun of TV for me, was the mundanely grim end of a reality show that I had been watching unfold on television since the 70s.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003 Posted: 3:35 PM EST (2035 GMT)http://www.cnn.com/...
Michael Jackson surrenders
SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- Michael Jackson was booked on suspicion of child molestation Thursday, posted a $3 million bond and released in less than an hour. The pop star flashed the peace sign, waved and blew kisses to cameras as he left the Santa Barbara County jail.
That was it. I was done. TV wasn't fun or interesting anymore watching that arrest on television.
It turns out other people, for reasons that had nothing at all to do with Michael Jackson, had unplugged their TVs, never to return.
Neilsen has just started to seriously track us, the so-called "Zero TV" people.
For the first time, TV ratings giant Nielsen took a close look at this category of viewer in its quarterly video report released in March. It plans to measure their viewing of new TV shows starting this fall, with an eye toward incorporating the results in the formula used to calculate ad rates....http://news.yahoo.com/...
The Zero TV segment is increasingly important, because the number of people signing up for traditional TV service has slowed to a standstill in the U.S.
Last year, the cable, satellite and telecoms providers added just 46,000 video customers collectively, according to research firm SNL Kagan. That is tiny when compared to the 974,000 new households created last year. While it's still 100.4 million homes, or 84.7 percent of all households, it's down from the peak of 87.3 percent in early 2010.
Nielsen's study suggests that this new group may have left traditional TV for good. While three-quarters actually have a physical TV set, only 18 percent are interested in hooking it up through a traditional pay TV subscription.
I don't feel like I am missing anything. When I hear that Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O'Donnell has a must-see segment, I can watch it online.
In fact, all my weird tastes that no single network could satisfy with programming, I can find online--Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Star Wars Clone Wars, Boardwalk Empire, Alphas on SyFy (now sadly ended), Sherlock, Misfits, the Key and Peele Show.
Like an increasing amount of people, I use the internet as my TiVO and watch shows the day after they have broadcast on television or cable.
Cynthia Phelps is typical of this new kind of watcher.
For Phelps, it's less about saving money than choice. She says she'd rather spend her time productively and not get "sucked into" shows she'll regret later.http://news.yahoo.com/...
"I don't want someone else dictating the media I get every day," she says. "I want to be in charge of it. When I have a TV, I'm less in control of that."
I am curious about the full implications of this trend.
Right now, the rationale for the FOX News business model and the surplus of reality shows like Real Housewives of Fill-in-the-Blank is that they deliver more eyeballs to the TV than their competitors.
How will popular and political television programming change in the years to come, when Zero TVers become a majority, instead of the minority they are today?