Sure, once your favorites are available, you can usually watch them on-demand on your choice of device. But it’s becoming harder and harder to keep up, now that pay channels/streaming services typically air 13 episodes of a show each year on seemingly random timetables. Broadcast shows likewise have odd scheduling breaks, creating a major loss of continuity for what’s supposed to be one full season.
So if you’re (like me) panting for your next dose of “Sex”: Google it right now -- or just go to the Showtime Web site -- and you’ll find that the closest to an exact date for the start of season 3 is summer 2015. Talk about extended foreplay.
I’m old enough to remember when you scheduled your daily viewing by checking TV Guide or your local newspaper’s TV listings. Now -- especially since everyone has her own niche bubble of favorite shows -- you practically need a Ph.D. in small-screen entertainment to keep track.
Networks might want you to stay aware of their scheduling by signing up for email blasts, becoming Facebook friends of a particular show, and/or keeping alert for on-air promotions. But who has enough time/and or forethought to make that extra effort? And who thinks in terms of networks anymore, anyway? Truth be told, I’m hardly watching any channels regularly now, so I usually miss out on network promos.
It’s often by sheer coincidence -- or the TV gods -- that I find out in advance when a show is coming back. For example, I discovered that there would be a winter 2014 season of one summer favorite, TNT’s “Major Crimes,” only because I read an Entertainment Weekly article in my veterinarian’s waiting room.
Like me, you probably have a professional reason to keep up with the TV biz -- you’re reading this column, after all. But if tracking your favorite shows is a problem for you, consider the lot of TV “civilians” who don’t read MediaPost and other entertainment-related trades for hints of what’s coming up on their various screens.
I know someone whose pay subscription includes “everything” -- most cable networks available, including premium channels -- yet she often decides what to watch next by going to the public library, checking out whatever DVDs of shows are available for free. OK, her husband watches the “everything,” so somebody’s taking advantage of the cable subscription -- but hers is still an odd, damn-the-new technology solution to the problem of winnowing down too many choices.
TV/video is becoming less of a mass medium every day, much more long-tail and niche -- more like the Internet, in other words. Still, whether we think of this world as the Wild West -- or, more pleasantly, as a wildflower garden -- it’s still way too easy to get lost in it.