Monday, December 11, 2017

LAZY SUNDAY # 500: Curiosity Stream

In 1961, Newton Minow, President John F. Kennedy's Chair of the American Federal Communications Commission (the much feared and vaunted FCC) had this to say about one of the major industries he regulated...

"When television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland".

The vast wasteland he described is often looked upon now as one of the early "Golden Ages" of television. Many of the shows of that time still run on channels such as MeTV, sell as DVD packages or remain available worldwide on their own YouTube channels.

What's more, the formats and genres they popularized are the same ones we use today -- in another "Golden Age of Television" -- and are found in much of the material produced solely to be streamed instead of viewed on a traditional television.

Newton Minow practically begged the TV industry to produce intelligent, thought-provoking programming. His entreaty did not fall on deaf ears -- screenwriter Sherwood Schwartz immortalized him when he dubbed the boat on his pilot for "Gilligan's Island" the S.S. Minnow.

And those searching for intelligent programming are still giving up on finding it on television. When I went to university none of my professors even owned a television set and the same is true for the handful of them I know today.

But now you don't need to own a television to find intellectually challenging fare. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a lot of great documentary programming. And now there's a streaming entity offering nothing but that kind of content for $3 a month.

Curiosity Stream offers hundreds of hours of high-end documentary content on all sorts of subjects and in all manner of disciplines. It's available on any device on which you want to consume it -- phones, tablets, laptops, desktops or even your television if its connected to a Roku or Apple TV box.

It's one more example of the kind of challenges being faced by specialty TV channels, the industry version of the brick-and-mortar retailer. Why pay three or four times those $3 for a documentary or educational channel packaged with some other channels you have no interest in?

Curiosity Stream may or may not be of interest to you. But it's certainly worth sampling for free for seven days while you decide. You can check the service out here. What follows is a sample of what you'll find.

Enjoy Your Sunday...

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