What is “television”?

For the past 50 years, when someone asked, “Want to watch some television?” a person immediately thought of sitting down on a couch, in front of box television set, and flipping through the channels until they found one that had a show they liked.

That process was something that no one questioned – Television was something that an individual could only watch at a house at the specific time a program was on. The belief was that television was something that could only be watched on over-the-air channels or through a cable/satellite dish.

Upon further examination though, that belief could not have been more wrong. According to Merriam-Webster, television is “an electronic system of transmitting transient images of fixed or moving objects together with sound over a wire or through space by apparatus that converts light and sound into electrical waves and reconverts them into visible light rays and audible sound.”

Think about it. Nowhere in the definition does it state that television has to be through a screen, that sits in the living room of a house, and is connected to a cable box or satellite dish.

“What even is television?” former movie publicist and current Hood College professor Katherine Orloff asked. “There are so many options available.”

Those “options” that Orloff referenced to are emerging streaming services of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. One does not have to be in their house to view the shows that are on these providers. Actually, most of the time, college students prefer to watch the shows on their laptops or phones through these streaming services, Orloff said.

“It is a really nice way to unwind and it is definitely cheaper than having cable,” Hood College junior Matt Ball said.

Over the past two years, Netflix has accumulated 88 Emmy nominations (54 coming in 2016) and Amazon has earned 28 (16 came in 2016).

With these consistent and increasing nominations by the Academy, it is extremely hard to argue that streaming services are not included as television but there will be always those who do.

No matter how one looks at it though, television is a form of art that is continually evolving and will never identified as being just a cable box and screen again.


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