As the Hollywood writer’s and actors’ strikes are in their fourth month, many Americans are tuning into surprising alternatives: The classics — TV shows that were popular a half-century ago.
TV comedies such as “Gilligan’s Island,” “Bewitched,” “Facts of Life” and “What’s Happening” are hits again as viewers turn to free TV services that stream those shows and others over the internet.
There’s a reason a TV show is considered a classic. They were really good for their time and everybody watched them because there was no cable TV. “Happy Days” and “Charlie’s Angels” aired once in prime time. Not only did people watch them nightly, they talked about them the next day at work and school. Word of mouth and the “if you miss it, you’ve missed it” mindset gave each night of the week a special reason to sit in front of the television and tune in.
According to “Fast Company” and the research group “Qloo,” viewers are tuning in again to vintage or retro content. Perhaps because of the writer’s and actors’ strikes. But there are other explanations. The cost of streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu, and Netflix have raised prices recently leading to “FAST” or “free-ad-supported-TV” gaining viewers.
Also the library and quality of shows those services offer have improved. Fast services such as Tubi, Pluto, FreeVee, The Roku Channel and Crackle have half a century of classic TV comedies and dramas at their fingertips.
Tubi, which has 250 free live channels, reports it hit 74 million monthly active users last month. While Pluto TV has seen its viewership jump by 70%. You won’t get every episode of
every show, and audio and video quality isn’t what you’ve come to expect from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. All are free, as long as you don’t mind about a minute and a half of commercials before, during, and after shows.
Which of the free services offers the best selection of classic TV shows? That’s a matter of taste of course. But if you’re curious and don’t want to scroll through pages of listings, I’ve done it for you. It isn’t a complete list, but it’s a good place to start and you can find it on my blog www.whatthetech.tv