I have already written an article about what to do if you miss a television show. Most networks have their programming available online so you can watch a missed show at your convenience, as long as you wait a half-day or so after the new episode ends.
Now I’m going to take you to the next level. Right now, television and the Internet are living in a temporary cease-fire that will soon erupt into a full-blown war. The first opposing side offers just-released television at set times, while the second offers commercial-free viewing whenever the viewer wishes. The second is slowly beating the former, and the only copyright laws keep the first on top.
This is a problem that television programming itself is slightly responsible for. For some odd reason, more television shows have shifted away from the episodic format. Sure, you may be able to watch The Simpsons in any order, but what about shows like Prison Break, 24, or Grey’s Anatomy? These shows have a definite “story-arc” that demand every episode be watched, in a specific order. The days of just sitting down and having a “one-night stand” with a show are over as more and more shows demand commitment. The problem is by the by the time a viewer learns a show is worth watching, he or she has to get “caught-up” in order to tune in.
Now, the viewer could use a VCR, DVR, or buy the TV on DVD editions, but there is a cheaper, less time-consuming solution that more and more internet users are opting for: watch it on a video-posting site. Sites like YouTube used to just host personal videos, but it soon became crammed with other material such as television episodes. One can find several full-length Simpsons episodes on YouTube, usually in sliced up into parts. However, if you’re willing to wait on the loading time (which is getting faster each day) you can have, at your fingertips, a number of Simpsons to watch at any time. There are other sites like www.veoh.com and www.dailymotion.com, and some episodes were ready at a click’s notice.
I’m certain that TV episodes that end up on these sites are no doubt illegal. Most of these video hosting sites say that they screen out “third-party material”, but TV shows from every network are getting through the cracks. In fact, I have found sites like www.peekvid.com and www.yourtvlinks.com which are essentially lists of links to shows. However, a recent trip to www.yourtvlinks.com has shown a complete redeux that is more of quickly-made Adsense site than what it was before. Something tells me that someone cracked down on this site.
The same thing happened to me when I found a YouTube subscriber who had almost the whole first season of Futurama. One day it was there, and the next day a sign saying: “This site has been removed by 20th Century Fox”. I wonder who it is that polices the net looking for episodes like this. Considering how large the internet is, I wonder if it is possible to scan the Internet for illegal TV shows.
So far, I don’t know how bad this issue will get. It could be as bad as the Napster controversy, but I’m not seeing any PSA ads telling me not to go online and look for episodes of TV shows yet. As it is, you can usually find what you are looking for on Video search engine. All you need is the show’s title, season number, and episode number. Sometimes you can search by episode title.
I am, of course, not recommending that any person who reads this article go out and search for their favorite TV show online. However, I will say that I don’t know the legality of this issue. I don’t know what would happen if you’re caught watching a TV show on a video hosting site that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. As I’ve said before, I don’t know how this could be policed.
Personally, I’m thinking that it is a sign that we are moving into a new age of television. No longer are we dependent on the remote, but rather the search engine and video hosting site to mee
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