Gilmore Girls

My wife introduced me to the TV show ‘Gilmore Girls’ the other day. I knew it has been a show she has loved for years but I had never watched an episode. Now that it is on Netflix I caught her watching an episode a few days ago and sat and watched with her. I am a big TV fan, especially of drama and comedy, so am always on the lookout for new shows and although I am probably not the usual demographic that watches the show or the demographic it was written for, I found myself really enjoying it.

The show drew me in

To me, great TV shows are based on fantastically written characters. I am in awe of writers who can write characters that draw you in to a show. A great show and great characters are those that don’t need big events to happen all the time to keep the attention of the audience. I don’t watch shows for events and situations that the characters find themselves in, I watch them, to go on a journey with the characters I like.

When I heard the title ‘Gilmore Girls’ it conjured up an image in my head that was different to the show I actually sat down to watch. The show is based around a mother and daughter doing life together, battling the complexity of growing up, family and relationships. I found the two main characters to be real and funny but the main thing that drew me in was their relationship, which is expertly acted and written.

Good dialogue

After every episode of the “Gilmore Girls’ I want to watch another. In many episodes nothing groundbreaking actually happens, but I want to get to know the characters better and learn more about them. I think the show would be a great one to watch for any aspiring TV writer. Dialogue can be one of the hardest things to get right, but in ‘Gilmore Girls’ they nail it. The focus on character is just brilliant as well and is a reminder to any wannabe writer to really make sure you know your characters inside and out, before attempting writing dialogue or story arcs.

So this show would be my Netflix tip of the week. I have got quite a few shows on the go already but this one has drawn me in and jumped the queue. Give it a go and I think it might become regular viewing. After a hard day it is not a taxing watch and is great to watch to unwind.

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How streaming and binging changed traditional TV

Before the explosion of streaming platforms, there seemed to be great frustration from the majority of the TV viewing public when channels would schedule repeats or show old runs of TV shows. Fast forward to modern day and it seems that showing old re-runs is now something TV companies promote to the hilt.

Playing catch-up

Traditional TV channels that are eager to either catch-up with the likes of Netflix, compete with them or appeal to their audience are now filling their schedules with various seasons of programmes that we all used to have on DVD box sets but are now just gathering dust. I remember fondly the day that DVD box sets were the most sought after Christmas presents but now whenever I walk past them in the shops I just think to myself ‘I bet I can watch it all online somewhere.’ DVD’s no longer fit with the way we consume media. We want to watch episode after episode at the touch of a button, we don’t want to have to leave our chair and grab a DVD from its case and put it in the machine.

TV channels on the whole seem to be favouring this method of programme acquisition over commissioning new programmes and paying top dollar for exclusive first airings of new progrmming. TV companies seem to want to buy old programming on the cheap and instead invest money in promoting it. Instead of risking money on new programming it is seen as more beneficial to resurrect old programmes where there is a proven audience for it.

Cheap content

Because the content maybe cheap, channels are now no longer worried about making it stretch over weeks and months, now they can schedule it in ways so that you can binge watch like you can on streaming services. Also with series link features on satellite and cable providers’ people can store it up and watch it completely like their favourite streaming service.

I think personally it is a little too late from the TV channels to try and be a bit like your favourite streaming services. I think they traditional channels should be trying to be different and innovate. TV channels will never be able to completely replicate what the likes of Netflix can do, so why even bother. If I were them I would be trying to do something different to offer an alternative.

It seems that the likes of Netflix are now trying to invest even more in original programming and having more success in that market. This is only going to lead to more and more talent and companies being taken that way so if traditional TV want to keep relevant they have to up their game.

Life without Satellite or Cable TV

This month our contract with Sky a UK satellite TV provider comes to an end. We have now decided to cancel and although I am a huge TV fan, I am excited for life after Satellite TV.

Before the broadband and On Demand explosion the only way to watch a lot of good TV seemed to be through Satellite and Cable, but sadly for those in that business those days are over. I think Satellite and Cable TV is no longer a must have and that it is a convenience purchase more than anything now.

Lots of options

We live in a world now where there are so many boxes and sticks you can plug in to your TV to access a range of content with no subscription required. There are also a range of TVs which have internet, streaming and On Demand built in and then there is the old fashioned way of just putting a HDMI cable in to your laptop to connect it to the TV, which works just as well for the cost of a few pounds for a cable on Amazon.

I am a subscriber to Netflix, which I can watch on the TV and not only this but I can watch a host of On Demand services from various channels as well through the TV. So although I will lose out on some programmes and content, I have enough so I won’t get bored. Then if all else fails there is always Freeview if I want to watch TV in the traditional way again, which is something I rarely do these days.

For those that are less scrupulous than I, I am sure there are many non-legal ways out there on the Internet as well to watch other content you normally have to pay to view. Not only this but most streaming platforms security is weak so allows many log-ins at the same time from one account, so friends and family can share accounts so that not everyone has to pay for it.

A bit of work

I enjoy the features Sky has like live pause, record and series link but these features aren’t enough to keep me and by doing a bit of work myself I can get round these issues. I just have to wait to watch things On Demand and make sure I watch things in a certain time period before they disappear from the On Demand service.

So my advice this week is – if you want to save money, try living without Satellite or Cable, I think you will be surprised how much TV you will continue to watch and how little you will pay.

Getting the best out of the Internet and TV revolution

My wife and I are always looking at ways in which we can make our money work harder for us. One thing we both recently did is move away from our iPhones. When we both recently had to upgrade we chose phones that did everything we would want but at a fraction of the monthly cost, saving us a good £40 per month and £480 per year. That money would afford us a brilliant holiday, a home improvement or many other great things.

Cutting ties

Now we have cut our ties with our iPhones we are starting to look at our TV and Internet packages. Our contracts are up in January with our current provider and we are determined to move away to lower our costs. We are currently with Sky because my wife and I are big sports fans, so we got it for the football and the F1 mainly. Since we have been with Sky however they have lost a lot of sporting rights and prices have continued to go up.

So the first thing we are looking at doing is getting our Internet and TV possibly through two different providers. Yes there are great deals out there to have them combined but the problem is you are then tied in to both services and if you start having problems with one you have to keep paying for both until your contract ends.

The other thing we are thinking of doing is purchasing a Freeview+ Box or a Youview box. Yes they are expensive but after that upfront cost everything you view is free and you are not tied in to a contract. These boxes also let you pause, rewind and record TV, these are the features my wife and I most love about Sky. Yes these options won’t have all the sport we want but they will have highlights, some games and some races. I remember growing up not having all the sports channels, I just think I got too used to having them as an adult but now I have realised that I am happy to go back to not having them.

Options

An exciting development is that there are many more specialised streaming options out there at the moment with many media companies having their own subscription service like Netflix so you can buy smaller packages, which are more closely tied to your interests. For instance I am a subscriber to the WWE Network, which I watch a lot and I hear other big players are following suit soon like Disney. I would rather pay for 3 or 4 four small subscriptions to things I like rather than one subscription to 200 channels, most of which I have no interest in.

I think its time for us all to become more media savvy. To pay for what we want and not for what we don’t. Don’t just let your contracts roll on month after month, think about what you want and get out of them if you don’t want to be in them. If you want a better deal, make it happen. My advice if you re happy with the service you have but not the price is to ring the provider up and try negotiate a better deal. The market is more competitive than ever and companies want to keep your custom, use this to your advantage.

The Netflix effect

When it comes to selling products in this day and age, I think the most important things are – where you sell them, how you package them and timing of their release.

A key example of this is Netflix. Over the last year they have purchased many different TV series and made them available for subscribers to view. The thing with many of the shows they have made available is that most of them were panned by the critics and not picked up by any of the major channels here in the UK at least. When they had their run on TV, not many people were talking about them and not many people were kept interested enough to watch the entire runs of these shows.

Stamp of approval

There is this strange thing that is happening with these shows and how we consume media. It seems by Netflix deciding to air them, that this is a big stamp of approval and just because of being on this platform, people now want to watch them. One trailer from Netflix and we are all rushing to add the series to our watchlist. Some how having every episode available for us to watch when we want to, makes a show more appealing than watching them every week on the TV or recording them on your Sky+ or TiVo.

I have to admit to also falling in to this trap, as last night I added the TV series ‘Gotham’ to my watchlist after seeing a trailer for it. When the series was on TV I had no interest in it whatsoever but now because it is on Netflix and has a cool trailer I am looking forward to getting round to watch it.

For many new shows getting on Netflix is now more important than getting on TV and now production companies, who thought they had got the most exposure and money out of their series that they were going to get, have a new platform to try and get more out of what they produced.

Brand

Netflix is a prime example of how in todays world your brand is sometimes more important than what you are selling or what you have in your store. If you have a product to sell, putting it on the right platform can mean more to the success of the product than all the work and investment you put in to making it.

What is perceived as ‘cool’ or ‘in’ changes at a very quick rate these days, so when you get to that point you have to cash in fast, as if you don’t you can miss your chance of making the most of your product. When your product or company are popular your priority above anything else should be doing everything to make sure that this lasts for as long as possible. If what you are selling isn’t ‘cool’ or ‘in’ keep working on how you are selling it and how you are packaging it, keep making changes on these sides until you are positioned where you want to be.

What Netflix proves is that as an audience we are more influenced by packaging than we ever have been before. I think in a way that is a sad comment on today’s world but as a company you should be cashing in on this, as even if your product isn’t the best, if you can get people believing it is great, then you will be successful.

A changing audience

I wanted to use this blog to pick up on a question that I posed at the end of my last blog, which can be viewed here:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/are-we-falling-for-it/

The question was: Is social media reaction more important than actual viewership?

This question was in to relation to programmes that air on TV as the way we watch and consume media continues to change. Gone are the days where we would find out about programmes through TV listings magazines and TV adverts alone. Gone are the days where we would have to wait until the next day at work or school to find out what people were watching or to tell them about something you watched. Now whilst watching TV you can go online and tell the world what you think of what you are watching and join in with what others are saying. If you aren’t watching TV yourself, you can go on social media and find out what programmes are worth watching or not worth watching, based on what people are saying.

Social Media is free advertising

So as social media users are we all now basically free advertising for companies with something to promote? I think sometimes what we say has more sway than what companies say about their own products and the companies with the products are trying their hardest to encourage us to post positive things about them. This is why I think it is important to use our sphere of influence wisely, as you never know when someone might try or buy something based on something you have said. Your opinion is worth a lot more than you think it is.

It’s like when people shop online for things these days, instead of brands and advertising most people look at the customer reviews. Good customer reviews on leading websites can be worth more to a company than a big advertising campaign. I think as a people in this day and age we are starting to trust each other more than we do companies and advertising, which is an encouraging sign.

Gone will be the day of TV schedules

Getting back to TV programmes, I think the time when we don’t have linear TV schedules will happen in my lifetime. I think peoples TV’s will become just a monitor, which will show the content they want it to, when they want it to. On Demand will just be the way we watch TV. Nobody will own any media but we will all be able to view anything we want at the touch of a button.

I think this will lead to us becoming a more discerning audience, which just watches the things we are interested in and that the only way we try new programmes out is by other people’s recommendations or response. If we hear about something online, we as an audience will add it to a list of programmes to watch and then watch it at a time that suits us.

I think an interesting development last year was the news that BitTorrent was starting to create its own content that can be downloaded through BitTorrent. I think this will be a hard market due to the reputation of BitTorrent and peoples opinions of it but I am glad they are also joining the market.

A change for the good

I think this change in the TV world has been a good change, as the focus has now been put back on the content, not on when it airs. After seeing the likes of Netflix leading the way with its range of original series that it has produced, companies that have both traditional TV and online platforms are now creating online only content and not only that but proudly advertising the online content, using the fact that it is online only as a unique selling point.

I think with all of these shifts there is more power out there for the user to control what they are consuming, so we need to use it and embrace it. I think it is more important now than ever to use this power as now we each have access to a plethora of media, which if we aren’t careful will take over our lives.

Life is a bit like Netflix

Like millions of others my wife and I subscribe to Netflix. We enjoy having all the films and TV shows available to us whenever we want to watch them. The amount of choice is unbelievable, but it’s that level of choice that sometimes makes it hard for me to decide what to watch.

I can spend ages just scrolling through all the categories adding titles to my list to watch later. I like expanding my list and having a great diverse range of brilliant films and TV programmes on there. After I have spent what feels like an hour doing this I will then go back to my list but then because I have so many good things on it, I then spend another age deciding what to watch from my list. By the time I have decided what to watch I could have watched a whole film in that time and by the time I have decided it’s probably time to go and do something else.

I think the same is true for life. We all have so many options and opportunities open to us in so many areas of our life that we can end up doing nothing because we can’t decide. In todays world decision-making is a more important skill to have then ever before. We are a generation that has an overload of information and media bombarding our lives and I think our future is defined by what we let in to our lives and how we react to it.

There is a school of thought that deciding to do something like a particular job or educational course means you are closing yourself off from the millions of other things you could be doing and losing some of your potential. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as the only way you are going to achieve in life is to commit to something. If you look at successful people in life, there aren’t that many jack of all trades but there are loads of people that committed everything they had in to one avenue, one talent or one area of specialism.

The only way we learn is by trying something. Like a film on Netflix the only way to find out if it is any good is to give it a watch as you will never know unless you watch it. Never forget that in life there will always be a new avenue, a new opportunity and a new life to lead much like on Netflix there will always be another film to watch.

Don’t be scared by the number of opportunities that are out there, be scared of not taking one. Don’t be scared of failing at them or taking the wrong one as all this does is get you closer to finding the right opportunity for you and the right path to go down.