The Development Of Televison Technology And Its Effect On Society

Imagine your life without cable. For someone who is my age or younger, that might be an easy thing to envision. However, try imagining your life without Netflix, Hulu, or any other type of streaming network. For some, that may be more difficult. As this chapter progresses, many questions come to mind such as how exactly Netflix designed their product to be something that the viewers consider vital to their lives? What did people do to pass the time before the television was developed and how has the development of the television had an impact on society?

According to the text, only 1 percent of America’s households had a TV set in 1948. By 1953, more than 50 percent had one. Now, since the 1960’s, more than 90 percent of all homes contain at least one television. The origin of the TV created panic that radio, magazines, movies, and books would become unnecessary, but they all eventually adapted. There are three major historical developments in television’s history that helped shape its growth: technological innovations, content control from advertisers, and the impact of the quiz-show scandals.

Beginning with early innovations in TV technology, inventors from different nations played with the idea of sending “tele-visual” images for almost one hundred years before the TV developed. From 1897 to 1907, the cathode ray tube merged the concepts of the camera and electricity. Inventors developed a way of encoding TV images at a transmission point, TV station, and decoding them at a reception point, a TV set. The invention of the TV includes patent battles between two inventors named Vladimir Zworykin and Philo Farnsworth. In 1927, Farnsworth transmitted the first electronic TV picture. Three years later, in 1930, Farnsworth received a patent for the first electronic TV. Television was the most dominant form of mass media, with more than 90 percent of U.S. households owning at least one in the 1960’s. Many of the top-rated programs had a single sponsor, which meant that the advertiser could easily influence the program’s content. The introduction of the magazine format and the TV spectacular programs greatly helped the networks take control over the content. Not the network, but now the sponsor produced or owned the programs from independent producers. Quiz shows, compared to sitcoms, were inexpensive to produce with cheap sets and guests that were not actors. The rise and fall of quiz shows were due to the fact that most of these shows were rigged. The contestants were given the answers to raise the amount of drama on the shows, and thus, investigations began. After an English professor, Charles Van Doren won $129,000 on the quiz-show Twenty-One, his fame landed him a job on NBC's Today show. After a year of investigation, Van Doren admitted to cheating and many of the big-money quiz shows ended. How did this scandal affect TV? First, the sponsors’ pressures to rig the programs put an end to any role that big sponsors had in creating content. Next, the fraud undermined the expectation to bring inexpensive information and entertainment into virtually every household. Lastly, the quiz-show scandal brought attention to the division between attitudes toward television. The fact that Van Doren came from a highly intellectual family and cheated for fame and money drove a large wedge between skeptical intellectuals and the popular new form of medium.

With the increase in technology over the years, smartphones, tablets, and laptops have now become additional devices to stream television on. Movie screens are the first screens, television sets are considered second screens, computer screens and smart devices are third and fourth screens. The first and second screens are the most popular, but this may change with the improvement of third and fourth screens. With the portability of third and fourth-screen technologies, this now poses a threat to television sets. This is because they have created online experiences and services like Netflix and Hulu. These kinds of services have become extremely popular because they provide their customers with a variety of movies and TV shows for a small price each month. People can watch these streaming services on their computers or smartphones anywhere and anytime they want. The convenience of these services is what attracts many people. These types of services have put a dent in television because many people have gotten ride of their TV provider in exchange for a paid subscription. Third and fourth screen technologies have changed the television industry forever. They have changed where you can watch movies/shows and how you can watch them. People no longer have to sit in front of their TV or go to the movie theatres. They can watch their favorite shows in the car, a restaurant, even in the bathroom. Last year, traditional TV suddenly lost 1.1 million subscribers. So what are cable operators doing to attract people back to traditional television? They now can offer “triple-play” packages that combine television and telephone services. They rely on the older people because they are most loyal to the television and most likely won’t leave for other streaming services.

Overall, television is ever changing. It is always evolving and improving, just like every other technology. At the beginning, TV was simply a dream. How was it possible to transmit images because they could not physically float through the air? They eventually figured it out and to this day, television remains the main place where we go for stories, whether it’s a big LED screen or a smartphone. It still provides a gathering place for family and friends, but now we can also watch our favorite shows wherever and whenever we want. 

16 August 2021
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