McAdams On: 'Discovery'

OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO—Today’s press release of the day proclaimed, “Americans lose 377 days in a lifetime browsing for something to watch!”

“No way,” I thought. “Has to be twice that.”

Max and I spend more time looking for something to watch than watching something. We have Time Warner Cable on-demand, Netflix and Amazon Prime, not to mention all of those over-the-top options on a smart TV that no one ever uses because 377 days for Pete’s sake.

This is clearly an outrage, or as alert flack Mauricio Guitron phrased it, “a horrific, loathsome, and devastating problem afflicting living rooms across America.”

Mr. Guitron cited the “Rovi Multi-Region Survey,” which said Americans spend 19 minutes a day “browsing aimlessly for something to watch.” I don’t agree. We aim to find something when we browse. It goes like this:

“Push the ‘smart hub’ button.”

“I can’t see it… oh, there it is. It says, ‘no input.’”

“OK, turn the TV off and back on.”

“It’s not working.”

“You need the other remote. No, the other one.”

“OK, here we go. What do you want to watch?”

“Something not violent.”

“Let’s see… ‘Death Race,’ ‘Death Wish,’ ‘Death Tunnel,’ ‘Faces of Death,’ ‘Death Trap,’ ‘Dawn of the Dead,’ ‘Day of the Dead,’ ‘Night of the Dead,’ ‘The Dead of Night…’”

“Let’s see what’s on-demand.”

“What did I just do?”

“You have to use the other remote.”

“Where did it go?”

And so forth. A good five minutes lost looking for something to look for something to watch. Then there’s the tedious chore of either choosing individual letters with microscopic arrow keys, or in the case of TWC on-demand, scrolling through a list of a thousand unfamiliar titles.

This process is technically referred to as, “discovery.” If “discovery” doesn’t make a space-age leap in development soon, I predict that a new phenomenon will emerge in television—the little-known practice of “linear viewing.”