TV time is now my time [Commentary]

Watching what you want, when you want

September 01, 2014|Susan Reimer

If you are looking for me, I will be binge-watching English mysteries.

Miss Marple, Poirot, Midsomer Murders, Endeavour, Inspector Morse. If someone is murdered in England, I am there.

There is nothing more soothing than the breezy, blossomy English countryside, with its meadows and its stone-walled gardens and its cozy little cottages and its drafty old manor houses. The title characters are always dropping into a pub for a pint in the middle of a work day. It's enough to make you like Guinness.

How have I transported myself to the villages of Causton, Oxford and St. Mary Mead as well as post-war London? I am streaming. Streaming video on my smart TV.

I can't abide commercial interruptions anymore, spoiled as I became by my DVR. Long ago I learned to record the network shows I liked and fast-forward through the commercials. (That's bad news for those companies trying to sell me stuff and those companies trying to track what I watch.)

Then I found Netflix, and I could watch movies and TV shows on my laptop and on my tablet, all without commercials for just a few bucks a month. Then I discovered binge watching with Kevin Spacey's House of Cards. I didn't eat a meal or shower for an entire weekend.

A new TV for Christmas — one with Internet connectivity — and I can now watch the programs of my choosing in high definition. Cable and satellite television providers are in trouble now, too. I can pick up free network shows from their websites or from YouTube or Amazon Prime. I can watch the National Hockey League and the NBA on their sites, too. Not that I do. I can watch the news on I don't even have to wait up for Jimmy Fallon.

Welcome to the future of television. I have never been in on the first wave of any new technology, so if I am watching what I want to watch when I want to watch it, you can be sure everyone else is, too.

(Granted I had to have a middle-schooler set it up for me. I saw my young friend Dimitri and a buddy skateboarding past the house, and I gave a very authentic performance as the clueless old lady in the neighborhood. It look them, like, five minutes.)

Finding what I want to watch isn't as easy as channel-surfing or setting my DVR to record Modern Family every week. But the abundance of entertainment is amazing.

I can now watch videos on YouTube. English programming on Acorn TV. There are lots of choices for me on HBO on demand, Hulu and Amazon Prime. I can see stuff on Facebook, too. I read somewhere that I have access to 1,700 channels.

I have a palm-sized Roku attachment, but you can stream programs through your kid's game console, too. Apple is rumored to be making a television that connects to the Internet by itself, but there are worries that sales would be poor. People who have just spent a couple of grand on a new high definition TV aren't going to be in the mood to upgrade again.

The kids are way ahead of us, of course. Especially millennials. Almost 70 percent say they watch streaming content — when they want to watch it. Only live sports events, like NFL football and the Olympics, might escape.

We want the convenience of on-demand viewing, of course, but according to one survey, three-quarters of us want to skip the ads. The day is not far in the future when not only will content producers be able to prevent me from fast-forwarding through the ads, they will know enough about me to choose just the advertising for me, like those Nordstrom ads on my Facebook page. All the dresses are in my size.

Television's days at the campfire around which the family gathered each night, to watch Happy Days or The Waltons or The Simpson, are over, I think. We will all be streaming our private list of shows on our own device, ear buds in our ears.

Susan Reimer's column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at and @SusanReimer on

To respond to this commentary, send an email to Please include your name and contact information.
Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.