Tuned In

The Hot New Medium of the Post-TV Era: TV!

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Rounding up the year-end Nielsen ratings for 2010, The New York Times’ Brian Stelter notes that—despite all the alternative media and entertainment choices—viewers actually watched slightly more TV than they did in 2009. The overall balance of the viewing continued to shift more in cable’s favor, but that’s still a growing audience for plain old-fashioned TV on a TV set.

The report doesn’t break down TV viewing vs. other entertainment (video games, et al.) or vs. other means of watching video (streaming, via download, through gaming devices, on smartphones and tablets, &c.), so it’s not possible to say that TV gained relative to other media. It may be—and I would assume that it is—that these other devices and video streams grew as well.

And it doesn’t appear that the audience for individual shows is growing, so much as the collective audience for many, many different shows is. (In light of which, if you have some time, this 1979 TIME cover story on the rising new medium of cable is fascinating: “For a monthly fee averaging $7, the viewer can watch up to 36 channels”!)

What we can probably assume is that, more than ever, video in whatever form is becoming the chief language of our society. So why in the world are you wasting your time reading these boring words?