What's the future of TV? Just ask a teenager

Jan 17, 2012

This week as tech geeks and gurus gather at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Oakland-based Youth Radio is looking at the future of television. And where better to glimpse future viewing habits than inside a teenager’s bedroom. Youth Radio’s Rayana Godfrey brings us this story.

RAYANA GODFREY: I’m laying in my room. You know, this is basically my dojo, my sanctuary, my place to go.

My favorite color is purple, so everything is purple – my walls, my curtain, my bed. I have a picture of Bob Marley on the floor, and some of my most prized possessions are in my room, like my guitar, my keyboard, and of course, my computer, my smart phone, and my television.

TV’s on. Computer’s on. I’m on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr all at one time.

I always have my TV on in the background, but when it’s not entertaining enough, I get on YouTube.

One of my favorite TV shows is a series on Cartoon Network called “Regular Show.” When I can, I watch it on TV, but I can always count on YouTube to have an episode. And online, there are no commercials.

I ask my granny if she watches a lot of TV.

GRANNY: Yes I do.

GODFREY: How much TV do you watch?

GRANNY: Too much.

GODFREY: What are your favorite things to watch?

GRANNY:  “X-Factor.” Game shows. “Law & Order.” I watch everything that come on TV.

GODFREY: And do you just watch your regular TV? Do you do Netflix or anything?

GRANNY: No I don’t do Netflix. I don’t do anything I have to pay extra money for.

GODFREY: Mmm so you’re keeping it traditional.

GRANNY: Yes I am.

My granny and I are pretty different when it comes to TV. She can sit through grueling endless commercials. Not me. I have to skip channels until all the commercials are over. My granny has always been loyal to just watching regular television, I mean really regular. She canceled our subscriptions to HBO & Starz and refuses to watch Netflix, even though we have it in the house.

But a lot of teens, like my friend Sayre Quevedo, don’t even own TVs.

SAYRE QUEVEDO: I really like these kind of British teen shows. One of them is called “Misfits.” The network that it plays on won’t let me play it because I’m in the United States.

Quevedo doesn’t let that stop him. He uses his laptop to search for websites that stream “Misfits,” using keywords like “free video.” It can sometimes take him 15 or 20 minutes to find what he’s looking for.

I watch a show that’s called “Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” and it’s not even possible to watch it on TV. Episodes are only online, and they’re great. Issa Rae, the creator and star, has raised a lot of money to produce the show, not from ads, but from donations on the website Kickstarter.

My mom introduced me to the whole thing. She even watches TV on her iPhone while we are out and about – something I don’t do yet.

GODFREY: So, hey mama.

MOM: Hey Rayana.

GODFREY: Okay, so you watch Netflix on your phone?

MOM: Yes.

GODFREY: So, you know I don’t do that, right?

MOM: Right. You’re bootsie.

GODFREY: What does bootsie mean?

MOM: Not cool.

GODFREY: So you’re cooler than me?

MOM: Yes I am.

GODFREY: I look up to you, mom.

MOM: You should.

GODFREY: Thank you.

MOM: I love you, bye.

And if not-so-young moms are hip to online television, shouldn’t that be a clue that viewing habits are most certainly on the move? 

This story was produced by Youth Radio’s Rayana Godfrey.