Media Writer Gets TV Fix from New Media

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Matt Creamer, a writer for Advertising Age, gave himself a sort of new media challenge. He switched off his television all last week and hit the Web in search of his TV fix, relying solely on technology like his laptop, cellphone, and iPod to watch video content.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

There's been a lot of speculation on how technology is horning in on the territory of traditional TV. Matt Creamer is a writer for Advertising Age who gave himself a sort of new media challenge. He switched off his television all last week and hit the Web in search of his TV fix, relying solely on technology like his laptop, cell phone and iPod to watch video content.

Matt Creamer joined us from our New York bureau. Hello, good morning.

Mr. MATT CREAMER (Writer, Advertising Age): Hi. Thanks for having me.

MONTAGNE: Okay. So you not only switched off the TV, you wrote about it in a sort of daily diary. And on day one, as you say, of our reporter's experiment, you found yourself a little bit desperate on - it was more like the Monday morning after.

Mr. CREAMER: Yeah. I didn't have my "Sopranos" fix on Sunday night. And as any "Sopranos" fan out there will know, that's kind of painful. It ended up taking me about 14 hours to eventually track down the episode on the Web.

MONTAGNE: We'll go on to a little bit more of your pain. But just take a step back - why did you take on this challenge in the first place?

Mr. CREAMER: Well, for the past few years, people have been watching more and more video on the Internet. A lot of that's been through YouTube, which allows people to, you know, upload videos of their cat playing piano and all kinds of weird sort of home movie stuff. But there are also people watching TV shows out there, and the TV networks especially have tried to kind of catch up with those people and put more and more of their programming online.

So I guess I wanted to figure out what was really out there, and I thought the best way to do it would be really to turn off the TV set.

MONTAGNE: There are lots of ways of getting content, but for those of us who haven't even tried it, give us a quick list of what you would be working with.

Mr. CREAMER: Sure. There are two main kinds of content out there. The first is the legal stuff, which you can find on TV network Web sites, which would be, say, CBS's Innertube, where you'll have all of the old shows of "How I Met Your Mother" and "CSI" and so forth.

Then there are the illegal shows, which you might find chopped up and uploaded to YouTube. Or, if you're really tech savvy, you can go into one of the many torrent networks which are out there, which are sort of peer-to-peer file sharing networks where large files, even movie-length files, are traded among people who belong to these networks.

MONTAGNE: Given that as you sort of crawled to the end you weren't that thrilled with the experience, did you make any discoveries in doing this or surprises?

Mr. CREAMER: I'd say the main surprises were how much you can find out there. The other surprise was how hard it was to find a lot of it. I kind of anticipated a much more on-demand world where you could just sort of, you know, the minute after "24" was over, I could sort of tune in to the Fox Web site and get a broadcast there. But it took some time and it really took some effort. That was the main surprise, I think, was just how hard work TV could become.

MONTAGNE: Based on a week away from traditional television, is TV here to stay, at least for a while, despite everything?

Mr. CREAMER: Yeah, TV is definitely here to stay for a while. I think eventually we'll see our TVs become more like the Internet, this idea that Fox has of watching, say, an episode of "24" on a "24" MySpace page, where you have all of these other MySpace pages around it and user forums and bulletin boards. But it actually makes you feel like you're watching with other people even if you're sort of alone in a room with your laptop.

MONTAGNE: Matt Creamer is editor at large for Advertising Age. Thank you very much.

Mr. CREAMER: Thank you.

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