They say necessity is the mother of invention. I think some mothers are about to get really busy. Here’s what I mean:
Arguably Bill Gates and Steve Jobs ushered in the modern computer age. Even AOL – now regarded as a cumbersome and ideally forgotten dinosaur – once got lots of credit for moving people forward. Nor should we forget those hi-tech gadgets used daily by spokescelebs that gain instant popularity. However, there are still plenty of people who resist the tech pull; for them the transition looks neither easy nor fun. Also people often need enticement if they’re going to change the way they communicate. But fortunately for millions of them, this change may actually – and improbably – be here. Nor is it here because of what’s happening in universities and major urban research centers. Rather, it’s because of what’s happening in Pine Valley and Llanview, Pennsylvania. Let me explain.
See, there are roughly 350 million people in North America. According to Neilson, Wikipedia, and a host of other legitimate bean-counting organizations, 78% of the people in the US and Canada have and use the internet. That’s an impressive number. My 83-year old mother doesn’t happen to be one of them, which is why I feel that it’s a good thing she’s not a fan of All My Children and One Life To Live. Otherwise, All Her Children would never hear the end of it when she discovered that the shows were returning – but only to be watched by a select few. Oh, she knows what it’s like to be devoted to a TV program – Mary Tyler Moore, JAG, Newhart, Cosby – they’re her faves. But she doesn’t know what it’s like to have something you’ve adored for forty years get yanked from the airwaves, only to discover that yes, there is hope – only it’s a completely alien, elusive, I’ll–never-figure-that-gizmo-out hope.
So this company called Prospect Park has reportedly agreed to broadcast the beloved soaps online. To literally bring them back from the Daytime Drama Dead – which is fantastic. They’re saying the shows will actually move forward plotwise (does that make them webisodes?) which is also excellent. They’ve breathed new life into something we thought had disappeared forever. And obviously the shows already have millions of online fans, who are over the moon. But what about the ones who aren’t online? The ones who aren’t Tweeting and posting about the shows they lost and now found – because they don’t know how?
I remember years ago when email got very popular they introduced a little gadget that allowed non-computer-skilled people to type and send an email on a simple keypad that resembled a mini – typewriter. It didn’t look like a computer, and people weren’t scared of it. So it worked.
My question is this: how long will it take before someone makes viewing a TV show online non-complicated and non-scary? And easy for everyone? I’m betting there are lots of savvy tech companies out there who know fans want to watch but who don’t feel comfy with the system. Those companies see that it’s all about perception. At which point we’ll watch someone create a wonderful machine that makes it all really easy. It won’t even feel like the internet. I’m convinced that within three years there will be some kind of electronic device that’s already rigged up so you need only turn it on (like a traditional you-know-what) and pow! Susan Lucci is staring right at you. What do you think? Will someone create that device? I may be underestimating people here, but I sure know a lot who were bummed, then thrilled, then bummed again. And perhaps someone’s about to change that.
1) The Bold & the Beautiful
2) Days of Our Lives
3) General Hospital
4) Young & the Restless