Have our viewing habits changed already?

As I mentioned in my previous blog post about BBC3, the way we are viewing television is changing. We are no longer confined to the small screen and a limited amount of programming. Television can be accessed on mobiles, tablets and computers. Television can be consumed online whether live or catchup. Some channels such as E4 and BBC3 have even used their websites to premiere episodes up to a week before they are broadcast on television and the websites also contain additional interactive content. Apps and social media transform viewing into a second-screen experience (although there are some doubts as to how much this is actually happening) so audiences can interact with the programme itself and other viewers simultaneously. One of the biggest changes has been the introduction of services like Netflix. Netflix is an on-demand streaming service which has films, television box-sets, American programmes that aren’t broadcast in the UK and exclusive content available to subscribers.

I predicted, in my BBC3 blog post, that these new methods were bound to have an impact on our viewing habits. I agreed with the plan for BBC3 to go online as that seems to be the future of television for young people although I also acknowledge that maybe the BBC’s announcement was a little premature. My conclusion were that viewing habits were changing and that television was not simply television anymore.

Yesterday I came across an article written by one of my lecturers which partly suggests that viewing habits have already changed and that some people only a few years younger than me do not value public service broadcasting like the BBC as much as we do.

In her introduction, McElroy mentions that she has been teaching first year undergraduates. Having just finished my third year (and my degree!), these students are only two years younger than me – academically at least. She has noted that a group of these first year students felt disconnected with public service broadcasting, especially the BBC, and that they felt that they could use Netflix or social media to connect them with society and engage with others.

This shocked me as I feel that there is a massive change in how young people view the media and that’s only within 2 years! I find the distancing from public service broadcasting really bizarre too. My year group, whilst recognising some limitations to public service broadcasting, are generally very supportive of having the BBC and value the need to have a public service broadcaster. It’s even become a little inside joke to copy Siobhan in W1A when she chants “BBC, BBC”  as seen in the clip below.

In the rest of the article, McElroy addresses the changes the BBC, in particular in Wales, needs to implement and references Tony Hall’s speech to BBCWales from April 2014. I agree that whilst the BBC has a good reputation for drama thanks to Doctor Who etc, there are other genres of programming that need attention and improvement. I think if BBC Wales tackled these issues then the service may provide more value to audiences and those young people who feel disconnected from public service broadcasting.

I do feel that Netflix and new “forms” of television are affecting how young people watch television. I’m fairly traditional – I watch most of my television on the television, only using iplayer to catchup on programmes or using the service when I haven’t had access to the channels on my uni televisions. I watch a lot of BBC, partly because I hate adverts but because the quality and production values of the programmes are often higher than their competitors. A lot of my friends watch a mixture of television and Netflix. Netflix is usually used for the American programmes they don’t want to wait months for to broadcast over here or to bingewatch a series, a new and increasingly popular way of consuming an entire series in a short period of time. So there is a change in viewing habits for my age group and my university companions but it still shocks me about the speed between generations (if i can call a 2 year gap a generation) for changed television viewing. I think traditional channels could suffer from the rise of Netflix and watching online if young people are choosing them as their preference for viewing “television”.

 

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