Who needs a new TV? Not me.
Columnist Tom Regan discovers what his children already knew: You don't need cable when you can watch your shows on the Internet.
Thanks to Hannah Montana, I may never have to buy a TV again.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
No, I didn't win a new television at a Miley Cyrus concert. But the other day, I found my daughter watching an episode of "Hannah Montana" on the computer in our living room. When I asked her why she didn't just turn on the tube and watch the Disney Channel, she gave me that "Daddy, you are so behind the times," look and said, "Because on the computer I can watch it whenever I want. And on the TV, I had to wait for it to come on."
You need to understand something important about my TV-viewing habits: I don't really have any. When I lived in Boston, I watched two things: Red Sox baseball and the Food Network. Period. I allowed my children one, maybe two hours of TV a day. And on school days, none at all. I was the TV Grinch. (My wife hates TV with a passion, having grown up without it.) I've never seen an episode of "Survivor," have no idea who Donald Trump has fired lately, and I'm lost about "Lost." I don't TiVo.
OK, I confess, every now and then I watch "CSI:." But that's when I feel wild and crazy.
I should have realized, however, that I was making the shift to computer-based viewing when I moved to Washington, D.C. I purchased the mlb.com package to watch the Red Sox on my computer. I started showing my kids clips of SCTV (Second City Television, a Canadian sketch-style comedy show from the late 1970s and early '80s) on YouTube. I started watching news reports from the BBC and others online.
Jennifer Squires Biller, who writes a blog called Tube-Talk (www.tubetalk.blogspot.com/) says I am far from alone when it comes to seeing the benefits of watching TV online.
"Viewing television shows on the Web has become commonplace for a certain genre of viewers, who prefer to watch their favorite shows at their convenience and often on-the-go, whether on their iPods during a flight, or on their laptops during their lunch hour at work," Ms. Biller wrote in an e-mail. "I truly believe that Web viewing of television shows has already saturated our popular culture, and that it's here to stay, very much the same way cellphones permeated our society in the last 15 years."
Now that the TV-on-the-computer-screen idea has finally dawned on me (such convergence was predicted in the pre-2000 tech-boom times), I have realized several things: