Listener Effects Of Streaming vs Broadcast Media

Streaming media is the future, right? Broadcast is dead, right? Well, streaming dominates many forms today, and I don’t see that trend stopping. Streaming has many benefits. We don’t have to download media to a client. We can just search, select, and ingest. For audio, the data rates are quite cheap. By streaming from a server to a distributed base offers many benefits — the ability to leverage networks, personalize content to a recipient, and so forth.

Yet, there’s something I miss deeply about broadcast media. I haven’t had Cable TV anymore. Netflix and YouTube (and Twitter, as a filter) empower me to watch what I want, when I want. When Swell was around, I consumed media (streamed) at the tune of about 25 hours per week. No more traditional, terrestrial radio.

In theory, it all sounds great and more efficient, but I noticed something was missing: The feeling of being connected to my local surroundings. When I have local sports on TV or the radio in the background, moving around the house, I feel like I live in the Bay Area. I noticed this when I travel back to NYC for family events, I always leave the car radio on 880 AM, which if you know, is the same local news nonstop. It makes me feel connected to the area for a brief moment of time. Now, I realize that other personalized tools have come in to help us feel more connected, such as Twitter and Facebook, which can surface information in real time, but this doesn’t work in the car, and when at home, there’s no ambient service which can do this in the background.

So, with Twitter, I do feel more connected to the people that are relevant to me, and while I like that decentralized approach on many levels, there’s something about the non-personalized, centralized signature of old-style broadcast media as it pertains to location. It helps me connect to my physical surroundings, and I know that many people around me are also tuning in at the same time. I’d be curious if you ever felt the same?

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2018 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus