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Will Apps Replace Traditional TV?

Kids Watch TV Everywhere

How does your family watch TV? Do you watch together or on separate screens? Do you make “appointments” with your favorite shows or DVR them to watch them later?

If your family is anything like mine, you watch less traditional TV — scheduled programs at their appointed times — than time-shifted TV via various TV apps. For instance, my kids watch most of their “TV” via Netflix streaming on our TV. They also watch some TV episodes via iTunes, on cable networks’ web sites (mostly Nickelodeon.com and DisneyChannel.com), on Hulu.com, or YouTube.

Remember the days of Must-See TV? Appointment television is becoming a thing of the past as young people–accustomed to curating their own content on the web and via apps–expect to watch TV shows when and where they want them–whether it’s on their mobile device, their Tablet, their laptop or on TV via a special TV app.

Mashable Video recently raised the question of whether  la carte apps will eventually replace the traditional TV experience. Last week, The New York Times featured a story about how consumers are increasingly asking “Why can’t television be more like a tablet?”

The answer is that while while TV networks and cable operators resist the changes, TV is becoming more like a tablet.  My family has Apple TV, a video player which came loaded with apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Major League Baseball, YouTube, and other content, and most internet-enabled televisions have built-in apps for many of these services. Some new sets come with apps for television shows, movies, and sports.

In a recent article for Adweek, I asked the question “Who Needs TV to Watch TV? I wrote:

Last year, for the first time in 20 years, the number of homes in the U.S. with television sets dropped—in part because of tech-savvy young consumers who forgo TVs in favor of watching content on their computers, tablets or mobile devices. Forget about cord-cutting. These are people who never paid for TV—or even owned a television—in the first place. They’re accustomed to watching their favorite shows on Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and other online video platforms.

My kids don’t differentiate between watching TV on-air and online. And they don’t seem to realize that TV shows air at a specific time. What about your kids? Do they know about “appointment viewing?” Do they watch their shows the old-fashioned way or are the more likely to watch on a computer, tablet or phone?

Photo: Shutterstock/Happy Family Watching Cartoon on Laptop

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