For once in my life I’m on the cutting edge of a trend. Remember this term: Zero TV.
Television has been a powerful entertainment medium in the United States for nearly 70 years and now an increasing number of households are saying, "Enough."
Zero TV refers to households which no longer subscribe to cable or satellite television services, even giving up broadcast television. Many Zero TV households are viewing sports and entertainment programing through their computers, tablets or mobile phones.
We can thank The Nielsen Company for the new term Zero TV. The audience measurement company introduced it last year in a study which revealed that the United States went from about 2 million Zero TV households in 2007 to more than 5 million today.
My home is now a Near Zero TV household.
When cable television came to Sioux City more than 30 years ago I was an early subscriber. For $12 a month we had a whole new world of television programming brought into our home.
Fast forward to 2012 when we were subscribing to a satellite service that cost more than $80 a month. That’s darn near a grand a year! Though we had a nice variety of channels we watched less than a half dozen.
When I called our satellite company last fall to cancel the service they offered a great deal on a smaller package of channels and I caved in.
Unfortunately, the networks we most enjoyed were in the more expensive offering.
A couple of weeks ago I called the satellite company to cancel and this time I resisted all the wonderful deals they offered to keep my monthly payments coming in.
Fortunately, I live close enough to TV broadcast towers to get good on-air reception with a small outdoor antenna. I understand the dilemma of living in an area of poor TV reception and cable or satellite service is necessary.
Like I said I am a Near Zero TV household because I can still which on-air channels.
Also, I have purchased a device which allows me to view television programming through my internet service. There are several different brands of what are called "streaming players" on the market and each offers a wide choice of programming options – some free and some with a modest subscription prices.
What’s available at no charge on these devices is not cutting edge, award-winning stuff but after spending a little time exploring I have found some excellent travel shows and some decent news shows. The devices require high-speed internet service but if you already have that you’re home free.
The streaming "channel" I use most is the Pandora music service which allows me to set up my own "radio stations." For instance, I’m a fan of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s music. I set up a "Gaither" station and all the music played is of the same genre of gospel music. My musical tastes are rather eclectic so I also have a Henry Mancini station, a Ray Price station and a John Philip Sousa station. That’s right; I played a sousaphone in junior high and still love a good Sousa march.
My age does not make me a target for broadcast television advertising and, as a result, most of today’s network programming is not aired for my enjoyment. As a result, I watch very little network programming.
Increasingly, I find myself watching Iowa Public Television which, in my humble but outspoken opinion, is a real Iowa asset. With digital service, IPTV offers three different channels of programming at the same time.
Still an old reporter at heart, I appreciate local television news programming and many days that’s the only thing I have time to watch on television.
All of this said, it saddens me when I recall the excitement of the early years of television and the fact TV as we have known it could be fading into history.
If I were a network executive, I’d be more than concerned right now. Hopefully the Zero TV movement will prompt the networks to begin offering viewers something that families find worth watching again.
(Arvid Huisman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2013 by Huisman Communications.)