/ Technology

If the TV schedule dies, will you miss it?

Falling house of cards

Netflix will soon release its brand new TV series House of Cards. And it won’t just be released online only, it will also be released in one go. It’s the beginning of a brave new world for TV – will you miss the old one?

House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and based on the BBC classic of the same name, is a new 13-episode series launching in February.

It’s high-brow, it’s serious (it’s directed and produced by David Fincher, no less), but it’s not made by HBO, the BBC, or some other established name. It’s made by Netflix, the company behind the online film and TV streaming service that costs £5.99 a month. And, unlike a normal TV series, it won’t be released piece-by-piece on a schedule, but all in one go. This is the future of TV.

It’s only natural –

It’s a natural next step, really. Ever since the likes of Sky let you record programs and watch them later, we’ve been setting the TV-viewing agenda. Research by Gfk suggests that half of 18-49 year olds watching TV in the 8-9pm primetime slot last year, actually watched a recorded program. That’s up from 16% in 2008. The same research shows the number watching live primetime TV dropped from 83% to 64% in the same period. Unsurprisingly, the younger the person, the more extreme the figures become.

BBC’s iPlayer, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength. iPlayer use grew 28% from 2011 to 2012. And with Sky making the shift to on-demand and download services – as evidenced by Now TV from Sky and its polarising new Sky Go Extra service – the TV broadcasters are reacting to our habits.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that the TV schedule is, if not dying, in terminal decline. Whatever will happen to the Radio Times?

There’s no need to be nostalgic

Sometimes such developments feel forced upon us, unwelcome and cumbersome. Not this. It’s merely a reflection of what we want. I choose when to read a book, or watch a DVD, or go for a walk – why shouldn’t I decide when to watch TV?

There are exceptions, of course. Sport and live events (eg Strictly Come Dancing) will never cease to be important – not least as social networking gives them a new, interactive dimension. Eastenders and Corrie will probably still be going out at the same time, same place after the oft-promised apocalypse (Hollywood said so, so it must be true) finally arrives. But slowly and surely, the TV schedule will fade into insignificance. I think this is great news – do you?


Excellent, thats exactly how I prefer to watch TV shows, I do an entire season in a few days, thats how I watched “24” and “The Wire”. From a TV perspective, I record everything including the BBC evening news and then watch back 1 or 2 hours later to skip adverts / boring news stories. I still buy a guide to keep in the living room to set the Freeview box to record each night but found the best online service for me is http://www.onthebox.com.


Anything that lets people select their own entertainment and then schedule it to fit their lifestyle must have a good future. Then, hopefully, we will be more appreciative of live performances in the theatre or sports stadium where we have to turn up on time, switch off our mobiles, stop talking, and pay attention, as there is no rewind or fast forward facility.


Anything that will pressure TV companies into abandoning that mid season break thing is a good idea in my book.


In the dark ages before commercial TV, we could watch the Test Card or listen to music during the daytime ‘Interlude’. The highlight of the Interlude was the now celebrated Potters Wheel. I don’t remember the Potters Wheel, but it has been captured for posterity and made available on YouTube along with some early TV programmes. That should be enough to silence the critics of modern TV.

I haven’t figured out what a mid-season break is. 🙁


Mid season break is something imposed by US program makers. Lets say your favourite TV series has a new season with 20 episodes in it. You happily record and watch (thus missing adverts) the first 10 episodes over 10-12 weeks ( they always miss the odd week for some silly US national holiday or other). Then for no good reason,( I’ll tell you why I think they do it in a sec.) The program goes on hiatus for 2-3 months, then restarts to run the last 10 episodes. That’s the mid season break. One reason I heard for this strange behaviour is that it reduces the gap between seasons, so you don’t have to wait so long for the nest season to start.

The Walking Dead season 3 stopped at the end of Nov and will be restarting mid Feb.
Two and a Half men stopped before Christmas and I have no idea when its due to carry on.
Some for Anger Management.


Thanks William. I can see why this is annoying.

The way forward must be to watch what you want whenever it is convenient, and at an affordable price.


If anything, those annoying mid season breaks make your casual viewers lose interest and forget to tune back in when it comes back…


Apart from news and weather, I am not interested in watching live TV. If I want to watch TV I generally use iPlayer, which continues to improve.

The only time I look at a TV schedule is when I’m staying with friends.


We’ve got some friends like that as well.