The TV watching generations finally catergorised

TV on loose stones and bricks

I've been thinking about this for quite some time but never really put it down anywhere till I wrote this email on the backstage mailing list. Yes I also hate catergorisations like this because they group people in too tight a category but this is only a thought.

  • 1st generationMainstream

    Tend to be stuck to the Broadcast Schedule, will get home to watch a certain thing, will see lots of adverts etc. Will tend to have Cable, Sky (satellite) or Freeview (over the air broadcast). Uses a video recorder to catch up on stuff missed but prefer to watch stuff live
  • 2nd generationTape it for later

    They tend to watch live events, browse TV and tape/vivo/record everything they watch a lot (such as shows). They skip adverts but still see them. Still aware of the Broadcast Schedule and subscribes to Sky or Cable. Uses the internet a bit for web 1.0 type applications (email, browsing). May buy shows legally from the itunes store.
  • 3rd generationOn Demand

    Completely off the schedule, no idea which channel things come from or what time there on. Rely on friends recommendations or social networks to tell what's on. Owns a laptop or has a computer device (such as xbox) setup with there TV. Tends not to browse TV and does not subscribe to Sky or Cable but watches a lot of TV content, sometimes more that previous generations. Keeps up with a lot of American shows. Watches shorter TV clips and amateur and pro-amateur media online.
  • 4th generationThere is no spoon

    Same as 3rd generation but sees all content as remixable and shareable. Can't understand why mixing content is a bad thing. Uploads content to online sites and shares a lot for social capital. May not even own a TV but has access to a large connection (broadband). Uses Torrent sites including private trackers. May watch a equal amount of pro-amateur/amateur content with pro TV content and may have a podcast/videocast of their own. Owns at least 2 computers, a mobile device which can play video, maybe a console
    and has a home network of somekind. May still buy content legally but is frustrated by

    drm

    and the lack of content.

These are my own views and should not be taken as the views of the BBC or factually correct.

Notes

Obviously there's stages between the generations (nothing is black and white like that), like someone who watches everything on demand but also tunes in for Torchwood every week (what day was it on again?).

I expect people will slowly climb through the generations and this will take some time. For example their are a lot people who can be categorised in the 1st Generation but there are also a growing 2nd generation which at some point will make up the mainstream. I also suspect the changes will happen faster as time moves on. So you won't get the 100 years of 1st generation TV watching with 2nd generation tivoing. Also 3rd and 4th generation watching are much closely aligned. Someone once asked me what happens after
the 4th, I usually laugh and say We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there… – Alan Turing.

The comments/feedback section is open, let me know what you think of it all.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.