On the way home from work today I was listening to NPR because that's how this homey rolls, and I heard a statement which just startled me: about 3.1 million homes are not prepared for the conversion to digital tv. According to the article, this includes the elderly and poor, those with language issues. Oh, and procrastinators too.
I wasn't startled by the number, which is actually less than I expected. I was perplexed by the newsreader's declaration that only the elderly, the poor, those who don't speak English or even Engrish, and (oh! the horror!) procrastinators would be cast adrift without their converter boxes. A viler cast of ne'er-do-wells surely could not be found! If only they hadn't put the procrastinator in charge, they would have taken over Ikea by now.
But the lovely NPR folks neglected to list one group who is not prepared, a group dear to *my* heart: the purposefully apathetic. Despite the pleas of my mother and father, I can't summon up the will to care if the crap they serve up on TV goes away or not. When the digital tv conversion rolls around, I'll shrug. If I notice.
Don't get me wrong: I love well crafted video entertainment (note to unnamed friend: you still owe me two hours of my life back that were stolen from me watching your wedding video). The Top Gear channel on Youtube is a big draw in my household. National Geographic has 8 Channels online. There's nifty new programming like Dr. Horrible's sing along blog and the Improv Everywhere videos. The Indianapolis 500: Legacy DVDs were in heavy rotation last month. The Indianapolis Marion County Public Library has an absolute guru selecting DVDs for purchase, so they have a great selection. AND WKRP IS ON HULU.
The last time I actually watched a scheduled, non sporting network television broadcast was when the Drew Carey Show was on the air. And if I really got desperate for Drew Carey (seriously: has anyone ever said "desperate for Drew Carey" on the web before?!?) I can pick up episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway on Youtube (British or American versions, natch).
Just think, 3.1 million households not watching tv. For argument's sake let's say half of them either scramble and get a tv converter box, or find somewhere to mooch on a friend, are declared legally blind or apathetic about tv, or lurk in the neighbor's shrubbery to see in the window... at their tv. So 1.6 million households are now doing something else with their time. How much time? Nielsen says the average American spends 127.25 hours a month watching tv. The US Census says there are an average of 2.5 people per household as of 2008. That's 509,000,000 hours! To put it another way, that's the equivalent to half of the state of Wyoming working full time for a year. If everyone who didn't get a converter box just held their breath for a minute we could solve the global warming problem. Really! Probably. Ok, not.
Just don't expect me to hold my breath until I get a digital tv converter box. I'll be happily streaming content on my computer/iphone/wii, and looking for invites to come over and see the Colts game.