The monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything that happens in the world of WIRED culture, from movies to memes, from TV to Twitter.
If you believe Netflixthe numbers of – and there is no reason not to – 63 million households has watched Shonda Rhimes’ new sexy drama Regency Bridgerton. It’s a bunch of scary people, more than watched the final of friends. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman 1984of start on HBO Max would have attracted new subscribers in service, and Disney has plans to deploy loads of new Star Wars and Marvel shows in the coming months. Streaming, it seems, is ruling the media landscape – so much so that it’s easy to imagine a day when settling down to watch TV simply means surfing the services between the hot new show and a series of TV’s. latest movies, live television be damned.
But there’s one thing our excessive surveillance habits will never replace: the news.
Maybe I’m biased because, well, I work in the news business, but Wednesday in Washington, DC descended into chaos As pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, I turned on the television. Not Netflix or Hulu sure TV. Live. CBS, MSNBC, CNN – I played roulette remotely with everyone looking for updates. Yes, Twitter and the internet also became sources of information, but for 24 hours after the start of the insurgency, if the television was on, it was listening to the news.
Much of the past year has been like this. While Covid-19 the quarantines made television one of the most dominant media, it also changed the diet of what we watch in this medium. Before the pandemic, people could watch movies in theaters, TV shows on Netflix, and live events in concert halls, clubs and stadiums. Now, all of these things are funneled through TVs (or, in some cases, smartphones, laptops, and other devices). Our definition of what it means to ‘watch TV’ has changed a lot over the past few years, from TV by appointment to watch on demand, but there are still parts of the old school TV. live that stuck around, and even gained new life. The sport will always have an audience, but the news has become even more vital over the past year. Even though people have been calling for escape programs, the news has worked well. Broadcast, cable and pay networks may have had a killer year, but cable news flourished. No longer just checking headlines on their phones while commuting or while waiting to meet a friend, people were watching the day’s events on live TV. A lot.
Will it always be like this? It’s harder to tell. One can only hope that one day people will not feel the need to stay glued to their screens for updates on a global pandemic or riots in the streets. As the Covid-19 vaccines roll out, it will also become easier for people to step away from their TVs and spend time in restaurants and theaters again. But even then, the habits that people have developed over the past year can be difficult to change. They’ll be used to watching new blockbusters on TV the day they hit theaters, they’ll still be recording with CNN – or a bit of NBC News on Peacock – in the midst of their latest Shondaland frenzy. At least for a while.
Bob Buchi, Global Home Entertainment Manager for Paramount Pictures, recently Told Variety that if the events of 2020 were an “anomaly,” his studio had been able to distribute content on other platforms, and “all of these options – including traditional theatrical distribution – will continue to coexist in a post-pandemic world. ” It seems true. But even as Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out and a ‘new normal’ is established, it’s hard not to imagine that many people’s diets will not be changed forever. At the end of last year the only thing on the cable more popular than Rachel Maddow was the NFL. It is enormous. And while the cable news may be less captivating when it doesn’t constantly respond to Trump’s tweets, it’s just as likely that the past year made us all news junkies.