For a long time, you either saw a favorite program when it was scheduled, or you didn’t see it at all, unless you happened to find it when it repeated in July or August. People used to rush home to see TV shows; the TV/appliance sections of department stores were packed at lunch hour with secretaries and moms who wanted to see their favorite soap operas.
People used to say, “Mom has to watch her show” which was less an announcement about the show than it was an indication that at this point in time, mom is going to the living room, as she does every week at this time. And if she missed it?
To quote Ken Kesey, in a really horrible appropriation of a beat generation proverb, when it came to TV, “you’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus.”
There was no VCR, no DVD, no DVR, or Hulu, or even, for the longest time, cable’s TVLand, whose motto was, semi-seriously, “Preserving our television heritage.”
Now, of course, you can’t get away from the stuff you missed, or want to see again and again.
So the new idea of live streaming comes with its own, oddly enough, may bring back that thing called a . . . “schedule.”
For all the joys of time-shifting, there is a move back toward the enslavement of the clock.
In February at a kind of town hall meeting in Berlin, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was all pumped up about the possibilities of live streaming. A Re/Code assessment of Facebook’s efforts noting how the social site “has spent a lot of time and energy working to become a digital water cooler, the place online where people go to talk about what’s happening right now.”
Zuckerberg and others are excited about the more one-on-one aspects of live streaming. But for that to work in some way that can make money, you need something to watch. And someone who’s there to watch it. So for now, the programming aspects of live streaming will be about tragedies and revolutions, and mostly about sports and concerts. It seems so. . .nostalgic to see notice of YouTube’s annual live stream of Coachella with a time attached and then the old parenthetical Pacific Coast time thrown in.
“What's more,” reports Engadget, this year “there's a customizable schedule feature that will reduce the chances of you missing an artist you really want to hear.”
They're re-tooling FOMO. So we’re back to that.