If you’re my age you’ll remember a time when there was one TV in the house with only three channels, or maybe four if you dad climbed on the roof to fiddle with the aerial, and everyone in the family sat down together to watch whatever offering was being served up by the BBC or ITV. Even the national anthem told you what time to go to bed. These days, TVs are relatively much cheaper and the way we consume programmes and shows has completely changed.
The advent of box sets and, latterly, the ability to save TV shows to set top boxes and streaming services has meant that we don’t have to sit down all together on a Saturday to watch Dr. Who for fear of missing it and the subsequent conversations in the school yard on Monday morning. If you were watching Dr Who back then you knew that all your mates were too and, indeed, the entire nation. It was a mass shared experience and there no spoilers to worry about either. In 2017 we can be in control and watch pretty much whatever we want whenever we want.
Game of Thrones is a case in point: most of us in our office are avid viewers and some are right up to date with Season 7 while others are screaming, “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me! I’m only halfway through Season 3. Let me catch up!” Amazing when you consider GoT first aired six years ago in 2011 and we can still watch it at our leisure without waiting for a repeat. Watching something together with family and friends is now an event rather than the norm as is usually reserved for things like international football matches or hideous reality show finales. Now, it seems, thanks to Facebook, we may be going full circle and back to these shared viewing experiences more often. Enter Facebook video.
Facebook has announced that is making a stronger move into video going up against the likes of YouTube, Netflix and the big hitter TV networks. Soon to appear on profiles will be a personalised ‘Watch’ tab so users can find out about new shows on the basis of what their friends are watching. Naturally, interaction between friends will be possible as well as the creation of groups dedicated to particular shows.
Mark Zuckerberg said on a recent Facebook post, “Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.” Interesting comment considering that before the explosion of DVDs and online video media over the last fifteen years, watching shows used to be a thing that naturally brought people together to share an experience and generate conversation. It’s rumoured that Facebook already has content lined up including some major US sports and material from National Geographic.
So, this is all very exciting and interesting but the concept behind it isn’t really anything new if you’re a 60s, 70s or 80s kid. However, entertainment should be about bringing people together, forming connections and generating communication so it’s certainly an interesting move to shift the balance back from the trend of online entertainment being an increasingly solitary pastime to a communal one.
In conclusion, if you’re one of those people who is sick to death of GoT discussions and conspiracy theories cluttering up your social media feeds (me included in my weaker moments) it’s really no different to the Monday morning chatter on the school yard. It’s just a bigger yard. People just want to talk about it and it’s a sign of great entertainment. And as conspiracy theories go, after going to see the original Star Wars aged 6 in 1977 one of my mates said that you could see Darth Vader fall out of his TIE fighter when he spun out of the Death Star trench at the end. I, and others at school, was on edge for three whole years waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to find out. And, by-the-by, Tom Baker was the best Dr. Who. FACT! ?