Will you still watch TV at home in 10 years?

In 10 years, watching movies at home might seem as old-fashioned as listening to music at home.

Twenty years ago, most people listened to music at home. They'd pop on an LP or put in a CD and listen to music on their hi-fis or home theater systems. Sure, they also had music in their cars, and maybe some sort of portable tape or disc music player, but home-bound music listening was still pretty common. If you asked me in 1991, "Will people always listen to music at home?" I could not have imagined what would change that. I knew the technology would continue to evolve, but what could possibly replace music at home? Right, I'm not Steve Jobs; he had other ideas.

Will big-screen TVs seem as unnecessary as big speakers in 10 years? Steve Guttenberg

The iPod radically changed the way people "use" music, and now with iPads and phones it's starting to look like deja vu all over again: I'm noticing more and more young and not-so-young people watching movies and TV shows on New York's subways and buses.

So where we once had to be grounded at home to watch movies or TV, in real time, or delayed on tape or DVR, we can now watch wherever--and whenever--we want. No wonder people are watching less and less live TV, and are happy to watch the best bits of "Saturday Night Live" or "Glee" on the Monday commute. Kids multitask and don't give shows or movies their undivided attention. They're not growing up glued to the screen; movies and shows are on, in the background, just like music. The trend is already under way, and I know a number of folks who no longer watch TV at home.

And as more and more people watch sports, films, and TV shows on iPads and tablets, producers will create programs that better fit the smaller screens' dimensions. The "watching at home on a large display" habit will wither away, much like active music listening has. The 10-year-olds of today will be totally weaned off attentive viewing by the time they're in their early 20s. I suppose older people will still be sitting on the couch watching big-screen sets, much like today's oldsters who are more likely to occasionally give music their undivided attention.

Sales of big-screen displays will level off in the coming years, and then plummet, mirroring the precipitous sales drop large speakers experienced starting 10 years ago.

Then again, I could be wrong.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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