Last night, the WWE held their annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view, which rivals in popularity their flagship Wrestlemania pay-per-view. Its keynote match is the Royal Rumble match, wherein the wrestlers most throw their opponent over the top rope. It starts with two wrestlers, with a new wrestler being introduced every 90 seconds until all thirty have entered. Last man in wins a title shot. If you’re a wrestling fan, it’s a lot of fun.
There’s been some controversy over the title match, but that isn’t what I want to discuss because I was unable to watch the event.
Living in the Triangle NC, I am serviced by Time Warner Cable. My cable service experienced no problems, except the inability to show the pay-per-view I ordered and paid for. All I had was a black screen. An hour on the phone with TWC customer service yielded no results except – and I’m quoting here – “That’s really weird”. I was informed their ONE chief technician would be informed “this week”. Needless to say, I was not pleased. But that’s not what I want to discuss either.
In the wake of not being able to watch the pay-per-view, I turned over to PBS to watch Sherlock. This wasn’t entirely a poor consolation prize because PBS does not have an on-demand service, meaning that missing this airing of the episode meant I would have to wait for the DVD/streaming release of the series sometime later in the year.
On-demand has become a big part of my life. Writing (semi-)professionally and working a full-time job, as well as preparing (sometimes exhaustively) for conventions, takes its toll on getting to enjoy one of my favorite mediums. Much of my entertainment is based on what I have access to thanks to on-demand, Crunchyroll, and the like.
The WWE’s shows are not available on-demand. Without resorting to piracy, there’re are few ways to enjoy an episode of Raw, Main Event, or Smackdown once they’ve aired. PBS specials are likewise something I orchestrate my life around because once they’ve aired, there isn’t going to be an easy way to see them again for a long time.
I really enjoy that.
While on-demand has made it possible for me to not miss some great TV, there is something I enjoy about having to clear my schedule and make something a priority. On this day, from this time to this time, THIS takes precedence. It gives the feeling of an event. It gives the sensation that this is, in fact, something substantial.
It’s one thing to Google a painting; it’s another thing to see it in a museum.
It’s one thing to see Shakespeare on a screen; it’s another thing to see it in a theater.
It’s one thing to read a blog; it’s another thing to read a magazine.
Every medium has a optimal way it is consumed. And in many ways, I feel like television is meant to be consumed in designated time slots. On-demand is a wonderful thing that I love dearly. And we’ve certainly gained more than we’ve lost. But we have lost something small but pleasant (if inconvenient).
It’s nice to get it back from time to time. 🙂