Mid-Week Poll: Do You Still Watch TV Shows on a TV?

Once upon a time, families would gather around the living room television set every evening to watch their favorite TV shows together as a group. These days, in any given household, you’re probably more likely to find four or five people watching completely different shows simultaneously, sometimes sitting right across from one other, each isolated with headphones and absorbed in the glare of tiny phone or tablet screens. When you want to watch a TV show, do you still actually do it on a TV?

Given that I’m writing this on a home theater web site, I think it stands to reason that most of our readers prefer to watch movies on a large home theater screen. However, does the same hold true for TV shows? Even in this day and age when many drama series are superior in quality to any big budget motion picture, TV shows are still often regarded as disposable entertainment, something to be watched via the most convenient method rather than necessarily the highest quality method.

Even for myself, I’ve lately not felt like firing up my home theater projector (or wasting precious projector lamp hours) just to watch TV. While I still prefer to watch shows in my HT room to get the benefit of surround sound, I have a 32″ LCD set that I can roll out into the middle of the floor on a cart. This is in no way comparable to getting the whole big screen experience, but when I just want to burn off the latest dumb-as-dirt episode of ‘Under the Dome’ to get it over with, that’s plenty good enough. I’ll reserve projector time for movies, or for certain really important series like ‘Game of Thrones’.

Of course, it’s likely that you may watch TV shows via any of several different methods, depending on the series or depending on what is most convenient for you at the time. However, for the purposes of the poll below, what I want to know is how you primarily watch the majority of your TV shows. Do you insist on watching everything the proper way on a big screen, or is a small-screen portable device good enough for a TV series?

How Do You Primarily Watch TV Shows?

View Results

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  1. Michael

    First and foremost, we watch TV on the big screen in our family room. Also, when it is later in the night, we watch TV in the bedroom.

    Rarely, if ever, will I watch TV on the computer and that is only if the show is not available on demand through our cable and it is important viewing to follow the continuity of a series.

  2. Josh – the primary reason you’re not watching TV on your big screen is because you don’t want to use up the life of your bulb, correct – I’m assuming it would be your first choice if your projector had an unlimited (or say, 10-plus years) bulb life?

    I can’t abide watching anything on a small screen…even the shows I watch online are through one of my Roku or XBox apps on my large screen.

  3. NJScorpio

    I primarily use my projector, with any TV shows through Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Xbox Video.

    I have a TV in my bedroom, but that is mostly used for movie watching. The TV shows I watch on it are just the news, sitcoms before falling asleep, or background noise while I do other stuff.

  4. Ralph

    The only way I see TV shows is when I purchase them on Bluray. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to watch it when they air.
    IF the show has top ratings across the board then it will be picked up and viewed.
    Oh and at that point it will be seen in the biggest TV and best sound system in the house.

  5. Vinnie D

    When it comes to shows I watch with my wife, it’s on a TV. We’ll watch on our big screen in the living room or small screen in the bedroom, depending on the time of night. When it comes to shows that I watch and my wife has no interest in (ie., Hell on Wheels, Strike Back), I primarily watch on my smartphone at work.

  6. William Henley

    Of course, it’s likely that you may watch TV shows via any of several different methods, depending on the series or depending on what is most convenient for you at the time. However, for the purposes of the poll below, what I want to know is how you primarily watch the majority of your TV shows.

    That’s me in a nutshell. I guess PRIMARALY would be on the television (although rarely is it from broadcast – I don’t have cable and rarely use the antenna – mostly its streamed from Hulu or Netflix or Amazon or Vudu). Older SD shows I tend to watch on my tablett, which I am doing more and more of (and will probably do even more of when I replace my tablett early next year with a speedier one – the one I have now is as slow as molassis – this product line turns out to have had a batch of bad SSDs they were using for storage, but there was never a recall or anything, so stuck with this until I replace it).

    I only have the one television now, but I used to have a smaller SD set in the bedroom (before I moved) that I would watch televison on. It was fine for watching stuff like South Park or Robot Chicken or Deep Space 9 on. Watching DS9 on the big HD in the living room just doesn’t feel right. I do have TNG on Blu-Ray, and it looks great, but it still doesn’t feel right. Enterprise does feel right on the HDTV though – maybe it just has something to do with production and visual intent of the show.

    Also, before my laptop crashed, I watched quite a bit on there (after I got rid of the SD television in the bedroom). I would just curl up in bed with the laptop and pop open the latest Fox comedy on Hulu or somehting. Got through the first couple of seasons of Doctor Who on my laptop.

    So, the device I use the most is my primary television, but that is abut 50% of the time, and other means the other 50% of the time.

  7. Pedram

    I hesitate to say on a “smaller” screen since the TV in my kitchen is 40″ (it was relegated to the kitchen after I got my projector), but my primary method is having it on in the background while I do stuff in the kitchen.

    TV shows generally aren’t something where I need to sit in front of a huge screen and take in the awesomeness with surround sound, since the production value isn’t nearly as high as most movies I watch on my projector.

    I watch them mostly for the story, which doesn’t necessitate bit screen experience for me. Having said that, I don’t think I’d ever watch a show on a tablet or phone unless I had a really long commute and wanted to kill the time that way.

  8. Bob

    I watch most of my favorite shows on the big screen and wouldn’t think of ANY other way for BD content (movies), but for the occasional show like the news, or channel surfing, I do on my old 25 inch CRT. That saves time on firing up my home theater, darkening the viewing space, and hours on my equipment. The only time I would consider watching content on a pad is on an airplane or trip, and I would never consider watching on a phone (way too small, and hard on my old eyes).

  9. Bill

    I prefer the big screen for all my viewing and if this survey is any indication the idea of squinting at a 5 inch IPHONE screen may not be as popular as the IPOD/IPAD lovers have wanted the world to believe.

    The problem of course is that this is a “prejudiced” site. Most of us who come here are HT enthusiasts. We love big screens and big sound. That kind of skews the demographic and makes valid conclusions difficult.

    • William Henley

      There is a BIG difference between watching on a 3 inch phone and watching on a 7 or 10 inch tablet. I refuse to watch on a phone and the only videos I will watch on there are the ocassional Youtube video that someone may e-mail me. The tablet is perfect for those days when nothing is going on at work, and you want to watch something on Netflix – the tablet is only about a foot away. A 7 inch or a 10 inch screen is a huge difference over a 3 inch phone.

      Ipod / iPhone = too small. iPad = doable.

  10. Mike Gill

    I watch in my bedroom with a 55″ samsung LED 1080P and 5.1 sound that is around the bed and sub in conner.

  11. Les

    I watch a 100% of all TV shows and Movies on my 72″ DLP TV in my living room. At 10PM to 11PM that viewing typically moves to the bedroom on a smaller 45″ LCD. Likewise, all streaming of any movies and TV shows via iTunes or Vudu are viewed on the same (2) TV’s.

    • Bill

      Don’t you find it amusing and a bit mind boggling that people here are speaking of 45″ and even 50″ sets as their “smaller” TVs? What exactly is the average TV size today?

      • Josh Zyber

        I remember back in the day, going to the (now-defunct) Tweeter, Etc. store to buy a humungous 27″ TV that I had a lot of trouble fitting into the back seat of my car. πŸ™‚

        I can’t say with certainty that these results are still accurate with our current readership (my own screen has increased since then), but we ran a poll last year asking people how large their screens were:


      • Pedram

        I think there is a big difference between the average size of the “smaller” screens of HT enthusiasts compared to the general population πŸ™‚

  12. Daniel Rowen

    Whenever possible I watch as much as possible on my big HDTV in the living room. We record TV on our TiVo, stream it on Netflix, or even play downloaded things on a media player, but all on the TV. The TiVo allows us to download programs to a laptop or computer for viewing on airplanes, which is really the only time I’ll watch something not just on the TV. Because if you have a nice, big TV with surround sound, why wouldn’t you watch everything on that? πŸ˜‰

  13. Random Commenter

    Actual OTA broadcasts are mostly watched on my PC, since it serves as my DVR. I’ll occasionally watch them on the TV if I don’t have any scheduling conflicts. I also use my TV for any shows on Blu-ray or DVD. Netflix shows vary between my TV and my 10 inch tablet.

  14. JoJetSki

    We have a 55″ 3d plasma for regular TV and then we lower the 120″ screen to watch movies in the same room.

  15. Paul

    I have digital antenna for over-the-air stuff, but primarily that is just for live sporting events. The rest I watch on a big-screen monitor which has my PS3, ROKU box, and PC, and media drive hooked to it. I use Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Netflix for most of my viewing and add in Vudu and other on-demand options for movies where needed.

    If it was not for Hulu and my limited time watching over-the-air events, I would not have seen a commercial in over 12 years. Prior to that I used DirecTV with a DVR from 1998 to 2010 before “cutting the cord” and going straight broadband.

  16. How can one truly enjoy a tv show on a portable device? GAG.
    For purchased tv shows, it’s the Home Theater all the way. For regular, mindless nights, it’s a smaller (35 inch) tv in the bedroom.

  17. I use my main system for everything. I’ve never tried to watch anything on a phone, and a tablet is a far cry from the full experience. Even crappily-produced shows seem wrong on a tiny screen. I’m currently using a 65″, but I want to go bigger. That being said, I do watch a lot of TV shows on my computer… which is hooked up to my big screen. And I can’t imagine going back to a normal computer monitor for PC gaming, either.

    • William Henley

      In my old house, my 42 inch television was dwarfed by the big, empty wall and the size of the room. Then I moved into an apartment, and the 42 seems too big for the room. Kinda glad I didn’t go bigger. When I move back into a house (hopefully won’t be TOO long), I hope to go maybe 70

  18. Drew

    Major blockbuster series — Game of Thrones, Homeland, Breaking Bad, Mad Men — are always viewed with my projector on a 10′ wide screen.

    Other series — New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, The Mindy Project, The Voice, Top Gear, etc. — are viewed in my secondary HT, on a 65″ ZT60 Plasma.

    I NEVER view any television or film on a phone, tablet, or computer. Nobody in my immediate family does, either.

  19. Jeff

    I mainly watch sports, movies and play video games these days. If something very well made such as Game of Thrones comes out I will buy it on blu-ray.