Television viewers today have a variety of programming choices available to them unlike anything ever seen before. Not since the advent of cable has such a cornucopia of entertainment been laid out for our consumption. But with everyone from DirecTV to Hulu getting in on the original programming action and the cost of adding every conceivable option mounting, the question of television’s future has become a complex one.

Not so long ago the majority of original programming, especially scripted programming, was coming from broadcast networks, with a few cable channels in on the action. It was a time before the DVR, when you had to choose what you were going to watch, and maybe tape something else if you really couldn’t decide between two shows (remember programming the VCR? It’s a lost art these days). And while it was hard to decide sometimes, there weren’t as many shows and it was pretty easy to keep up. Most people had cable or satellite, and if you felt like splurging you could opt for HBO or Showtime, which were offering a few original series already. Sex and the City may have been the first such show to really make a name for itself – and send viewers away from the big networks in search of new shows. While the cable bill might have seemed high then, it was the main source of home entertainment. We had our MTV, and we were pretty satisfied.

Today it’s a different ball game. Just about every cable channel out there, including the premium pay channels, has some original programming. And to access those pay channels, it’s fee on top of fee on top of your cable bill – there’s no way to access them without having cable or satellite. Then there are the streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and newer entrant to the field, Vudu. Some are monthly fees, other pay per use services. Suddenly you could access even more – including those shows you might have missed back in the pre-DVR days. Both Netflix and Hulu have jumped into original programming on top of offering fodder from other sources.

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