Limited choice is a good thing.
Imagine if we had immediate access to every episode of every sitcom and drama that was ever made. Not only that, but also every single film that was ever made. And imagine if we could access them whenever and wherever we chose, on our mobile devices, from our couches or even by scheduling a visit to the local cinema.
Sounds immense, doesn’t it? But in reality, I don’t think that model fits well with us humans.
You see, too much choice is sometimes a bad thing. If I could select any film to see at the cinema, I think I’d go much less often than I currently do. I wouldn’t be able to decide what on earth to see. I love being able to look through the half-dozen films showing at the local Picturehouse and deciding which, if any, takes my fancy.
Even with the hugely extended offering that is now available to us on TV, I more often than not settle upon regular scheduled TV as opposed to selecting something from the last week’s worth of TV via the on-demand service. And in doing so, likelihood is I’ll be watching one of the four channels I grew up with.
I like the idea and reality of an imposed schedule. My dad enjoys TV, but his regular refrain when my mum was busy programming the video recorder before a night out while we were growing up was, “If you miss it, you miss it.” I tend to agree: we own DVDs that are still wrapped in cellophane.
While attending a five-year-old’s birthday party the other day, I met Mike Blakemore, the CTO of LOVEFILM (wow that capitalisation grates). Among other things, we talked about the recent forays by Netflix into the UK market. (As an aside, he’s leaving soon to become the Guardian’s CTO.)
Neither streaming product interests me. Maybe I’m a traditionalist when it comes to TV. Maybe I’m an outlier. But I’d much rather be given a choice of what to watch of an evening. If there’s nothing that takes my fancy, I can always find something else to do. And if I’m out when something of note is on, I may record it on the 80 hours that are available on my Virgin Media box; but likelihood is that I’ll delete it before getting round to watching it.