As someone who dabbles in most forms of media, I’m pretty exposed to media convergence. Media convergence is defined by Henry Jenkins as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms.” The rapid changes in the media environment are so consistent that most of the time we are oblivious to how fast our technology is improving, until we actually look at the media of the past.
I often find myself watching, streaming and listening to multiple media devices all at the same time, such as streaming a show on my laptop whilst watching TV, or I sometimes see my dad reading the paper whilst watching CNN. The effects of convergent media practices are right in front of our faces, yet we don’t really think about it.
I tend to spend a lot of my time watching YouTube videos and playing video games (mostly The Sims, which I could happily spend 10 continuous hours playing). Sometimes I even combine the two and watch Let’s Plays of people playing The Sims when I can’t afford to buy the expansion packs myself, and let’s be real, when I’m procrastinating.
When I first started playing The Sims, there’s no way I could’ve watched YouTube videos of people playing the game. YouTube didn’t even exist at the time.
Now many people have created web series on the game, as well as many other games. They create challenges that other YouTubers can participate in, and make tutorials demonstrating how to play the game itself.
This has become such a phenomenon that young people are watching more YouTube than TV. A study done by Defy Media “found that consumers between 13 and 24 watch an average of 11.3 hours of online video per week as opposed to just 8.3 hours of broadcast TV…” (C. L. Palermino 2015, Millennials watch more YouTube than TV, study says, viewed 3 April 2016 < http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/youtube-millennials-tv/>)
So what does this mean for the TV industry?
While the TV industry is continuing to release content, their viewer consumption has significantly declined. This is due to streaming websites, such as Netflix and Hulu, who are producing their own exclusive content as well as offering content that it available on TV.
Why pay for cable TV when you can have all that and more, for less money, on an alternative service?
Of course, there are pro’s and con’s to both. TV companies do offer viewers some things that Internet streaming services do not, and vice versa.
Nonetheless, Internet streaming services, as well as free services like YouTube that are also offering over a year’s worth of entertainment, are continuing to contribute to the decline in TV viewership.
The world, especially with the rapid growth of technology we are experiencing, is bound to change. While we continue to use traditional media, we are quickly progressing to new forms of media. Will traditional media become obsolete? Or simply be recycled over time?
Who knows at this point in time, but for now I will continue to watch YouTube and endless repeats of Friends on my TV…while I can.