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The End of Free TV

During holiday visits with extended family, we were watching some MinutePhysics videos on YouTube via Apple TV. Here’s an example of these enormously popular quickie physics lessons:

After learning whether it is better to run or walk in the rain (see the video above) and taking in the finer points of the Hairy Ball Theorem (go ahead, look it up, I’ll wait), we all adjourned to grab some dessert, during which time we tuned in to one of the eight million radio stations now available for streaming through my home theater system.

This post, however, isn’t about MinutePhysics or radio stations or even Apple TV per se. It’s more about my mother-in-law’s somewhat sad reflection that this is pretty much the end of free television as we know it. On the one hand, she’s obviously right. There’s a growing portion of the population who have zero patience for traditional television and its commercials. On the other hand, there is an overriding human desire for stories – it’s woven into our DNA. And if you really want to watch a story, you need to have it written, acted, and produced – and all of that costs money. So we’ve got commercials on “free” TV, or we pay for HBO or Netflix. We also shell out for Internet access to get all the great “free” stuff off the web. You’ll notice, too, that there’s probably a commercial running right before the MinutePhysics video. I tried to reassure Mom that there’s no real need to worry. Because while I have no idea how we’ll be paying for our entertainment in 10 years, I’m very sure the entertainment will be there. And that we’ll be paying for it, one way or the other.

~ Adam Schnitzler, CCO, The S3 Agency


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