Streaming has given us too much choice. It’s time to bring back old school TV

After a long day of making countless decisions at work, then going home to make decisions for a child, by the time I finally settle down in front of the TV, the last thing I need is to make yet more decisions.

I don’t want to open up a streaming service only to spend the next 40 minutes endlessly clicking through TV series and movies, just to finally land on something that I only have half an hour to watch before bed. It’s too much choice. Too many decisions that have to be made.

Too many options on the box? TV streamers like Netflix and Stan should go old-school and give us a curated channel to park on.Credit:Jo Gay; supplied

So, here’s my proposal: a channel on each streaming service that is curated and pre-programmed to show movies and shows, good ones too, at set times. You click on it and start in the middle of whatever is on right then. It’s not algorithmic, or customised to your specific taste. Everyone gets the same channel.

Now. I know what you’re about to say. “Isn’t this just TV?” And you’re right, but hear me out. Let me explain the concept.

How is this not just TV? It already exists.
But does it, though? The TV of my childhood, many people’s childhoods, has disappeared into a fragmented collection of paywalled online streaming services with more options than anyone can keep track of. There is a reason sites like CompareTV or Finder exist – if you think of something to watch, it still takes ages to figure out if it’s even available across Netflix, Amazon, iView, Disney+, Stan, Binge, Paramount+, 10Play, Foxtel Now, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Premium, 7Plus, SBS On Demand, BritBox, Apple TV+, Kayo…

We get it, there are a lot of options. But why do you want to go back to TV?
Part of what I’m missing is the communal nature of the entire country watching the same thing at once. Reacting on social media, talking about it the next day at school or work. The closest we get these days is live sport, high-profile reality TV shows on traditional broadcast channels, and the first two weeks after a big new show comes out on a streaming service. “Have you seen the latest Stranger Things?” No I haven’t, so there’s the end of that conversation.

OK, but there are TV channels that show movies right now, can’t you just switch them on?
Yes, there are. Nine, owner of this masthead, shows films on its 9Go! channel. Seven has 7Flix, which broadcasts home shopping and sitcoms during the day and a couple of movies at night. But I’m already paying for streaming services. They’ve got great movies, including classics I’d watch and rewatch. I’m already looking at the streamers on my TV – just put the channel there instead. Also, my TV aerial doesn’t work for some reason.

What I’m taking from this is that you’re lazy.
It goes back to what I was saying: too many decisions. What’s easier? Going through the long process of figuring out why my building’s aerial connection won’t work, or just switching on a streaming service? Either way, tell me you wouldn’t click on the Stan or Netflix national channel to see what’s on. (Stan is also owned by Nine.)

What would be programmed?
Think about it: between 6pm and 8pm there might be a handful of sitcoms, brilliant new shows like Abbott Elementary mixed with classics like The Office. Maybe at 8pm there’s a hard-hitting drama, or true-crime series. Then it’s Strictly Ballroom. Next up is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Tomorrow night they’re showing My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Nights of curated streaming, featuring The Office and My Best Friend’s Wedding? Sign us up.

They’re good films, I’m coming around.
You turn it on 30 minutes in, you’ve got the option to keep watching or go back to the start. But here you are, just before Lady Gaga goes on stage for the first time with Bradley Cooper to sing Shallow from A Star Is Born.

I need to watch A Star Is Born again, actually.
The premise of the podcast The Rewatchables is that when you flick onto a channel and a movie is on, you keep watching it even though you’ve seen it before because the film is just so damn rewatchable. This is all I’m looking for. Just one channel per streamer, maybe hire someone Australians love to curate the choices, and put it at the top of the app. Many younger people don’t even have TVs, they’re just watching things on their laptop. Let’s not deprive them of being part of the national conversation.

I can’t tell if this is a very dumb idea or an excellent one?
Tech companies have made billions taking something that already exists, rejigging it slightly, and then selling it to us as a revolution. Please streamers, reinvent the TV channel too so I don’t have to choose anymore.

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