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McAdams On: Everywhere. Really?

Here’s the deal about “TV everywhere,” or “Everywhere,” as the case may be. Who has time for it? I seldom have time for TV in my living room.

I am surmising, from certain feedback, that a lot of readers of this magazine don’t watch TV as a recreational activity, but as a monitoring activity. The only video engineers I’ve ever seen watching video on a handheld device were showing it to someone else.

Yet Nielsen keeps telling us that Americans are watching more TV on more platforms all the time. Handheld and computer viewing doesn’t seem to be eating into the big screen, recalling Mr. McLuhan’s Corollary: It ain’t the content, bro. Viewing time on those “secondary” screens still comprises just minutes a day, as if people occasionally tune into something because they can.

Nielsen has drilled down into viewer demographics, but not into content differentiation. More than likely, four-minute YouTube cat videos dominate second screens. I don’t think it’s the Lakers. They are too tall for smaller displays.

The more insidious aspect of lower-case TV everywhere is that, indeed, we can’t get away from it. We can’t pump gas without a TV screen in our face. I would prefer concrete cams by which I could view the undercarriage of the Hello Kitty Interceptor when I fuel up. This would be more useful to me than a weather report. I am already aware of weather conditions. I am standing in them pumping gas.

And what’s the deal with TVs in restaurants that charge $20 for some leaves and tomato bisque? Are we really that addicted; and if we are, shouldn’t there be some sort of mass cultural rehab? What will happen when we go to Paris with its shocking lack of television-equipped bistros? TVDTs?

Let’s hope for a counter-trend. Life is far too interesting—and short—for TV, everywhere.