Before the advent of digital television the viewership for popular television programmes was astronomical. The days of season finales bringing in tens of thousands of people all huddled around their television sets were part of the fabric of the analogue generation. Television was geared towards global sporting events, one-off historic documentaries and newsflashes that got people talking about it the next day and the week to come.
Satellite television brought us choices, programmes from around the world and many different films and sports that we could watch without cutting into the air time of regular programming. It was still analogue and didn’t improve picture quality or reception issues that also came with analogue terrestrial television, but with Pay TV came the ability to choose the channels we wanted, the sports we loved and the movies we had to see – at a premium.
When digital television arrived, it revolutionised terrestrial television. For no extra cost to the viewer, multiple channels were available, with little upgrade costs required to purchase the receiver or digital television. Pay TV was an available option when it came to digital satellite television, and with services becoming available later that offered television via the internet or cable, the choice on offer in terms of programming matched the boost in quality of the picture, the signal and the audio.
But as a boost in quality of the picture became quickly apparent with the introduction of digital high definition television on cable, satellite and terrestrial television, many people wondered where the quality went in programming. With more people tuning in than ever, the broadcasters with all of their newly found bandwidth to give us hundreds of channels decided to create a channel for nearly every possible niche imaginable.
These niche channels and programming brought with them a whole host of reality television programming that changed the face of television almost overnight. With audiences wanting more true stories about real people and the lives that they live, broadcasters searched high and low for entertaining characters that audiences could relate to and create programmes that could convey alternative lifestyles.
The characters that grew in popularity have grown into household names, and the programmes that these new form of celebrity found fame in have become an almost never-ending conveyor belt of ready-made television personalities. But this digital revolution in television has also put the power in control of the audience. With more and more ways to watch television; from series recording, time-shifted programming and television and movies on demand, the power is in the viewers’ fingertips, just as the power to vote off this weeks’ celebrity from the newest reality programme is afforded to viewers, the digital revolution in television has given audiences an evolution in control that cannot be reversed.
About the Author:
Ruth Hawtree is the owner of Local Bloke Antenna Services (Gold Coast), a govt approved digital tv and tv antenna specialist, an installer of Freeview and home theatre with years of experience.
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