The original ‘Golden Age of Television’ in the US began in 1947 and lasted until 1960. The first electronic television set was successfully demonstrated in San Francisco on September 7th, 1927. Philo Taylor Farnsworth, a 21-year-old inventor, designed it. Francisco’s invention scanned images with a beam of electrons; it is the direct ancestor of the modern television. Between the years of 1927 and 1947 television was extremely primitive, and the number of televisions owned in the US could be counted in the thousands. Full-scale commercial television broadcasting began in the US in 1947, the start of the golden age. By 1949 Americans who lived within the range of a growing number of television stations could watch commercialized television, including newscasts, comedies, variety shows, and dramas. The number of TV sets rose from 6,000 in 1946 to over 12 million by 1951. This explosion marked the beginning of modern television and captivated Americans unlike any other device before. No other invention entered American households faster than the black and white TV. By 1955 half of all US homes had one.
The TV revolution was a new and exciting time in America. Although viewers were limited by the quality of images, the number of channels, and the programming schedule, the birth of TV came about because it gave viewers access to something that they never had before. They were given a better medium to connect with the world, a more engaging portal into entertainment, news, politics, and sports.
The advancements of the 21st century, mainly the technology boom, has created a new golden age of television. The modern Golden Age of Television is considered to have begun in the early 2000s and is alive and well today. The large number of critically acclaimed television program highlights the second coming of the golden age of television. This golden age, however, is characterized by convenience and connection, rather than the birth of commercial success.
Streaming Services Give Unprecedented Convenience
Today’s world of entertainment is dominated by convenience. Streaming services like Netflix, HBO, Amazon and Hulu give users unprecedented access to content. This convenience has dictated the way that Americans watch TV. With the improvements to streaming, binge watching has become a regular habit for TV fans. According to a study from Deloitte, 70% of US consumers binge watch TV, with an average of five episodes per sitting. Additionally, the study said that nearly half of Americans subscribe to streaming media services. The study also notes that Milennials aged 14 to 25 value their streaming video subscriptions more than paid TV subscriptions.
Superior Devices Allow a Seamless Viewing Experience
The popularity of streaming services wouldn’t have been possible without advancement in the devices that allow us to access these services. The ability to watch TV anytime and on any device gives viewers a seamless connection to their favorite shows in a more convenient way than ever before. Apple TV, Smart TV’s, Roku, Gaming Consoles, Amazon Fire Stick, and countless others devices allow users to access Netflix, Hulu, and HBO effortlessly. The streaming services have also done an amazing job of allowing viewers to transition their viewing experience from one device to another, effortlessly. Netflix allows you to watch half of a show on your TV and finish the show right where you left off on your iPad. The Netflix interface is easy to navigate and is remarkably consistent on every device, making watching TV effortless and addictive.
Social Media Provides a Platform for Connection
Just as the original Golden Age of Television was centered on a more engaging connection to the world, so is the modern Golden Age. Social Media’s viral nature is epitomized by TV fandom. Twitter provides a platform to connect and engage with other fans. Shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and House of Cards have developed cult like followings. Twitter is littered with memes, fan pages, and episode recaps. Most new episodes of hit shows are live tweeted with updates and commentary. This viral nature encourages fans to watch each episode live, or risk the chance of stumbling upon a spoiler. Hit shows also seem to force themselves on non-watchers. Even if you don’t watch Game of Thrones chances are you know some of the characters and understand the basic storyline. The show is unavoidable. It is also a great place to gather TV show recommendations. In order to get hooked on a new show a decade ago you would have to hear about it from someone or catch it on TV by accident. Today, social networks inform you about everything worth watching.
Social networks also help generate unavoidable FOMO (fear of missing out). Constant Twitter and Facebook chatter can be tremendously influential. It can even push on-the-fence viewers over the edge simply by encouraging them to join the conversation. Social networks help us feel like we are apart of something greater than ourselves. They help facilitate a never-ending conversation. The fear of missing something exciting, a viral moment, helps fuel the addictive nature of these platforms. This culture has pushed TV back into the center of American society. Convenience, a seamless viewing experience, and a viral conversation have created the modern Golden Age of Television.