Today, May 18, marks the four-year anniversary of the Old Timey Computer Show. Over the last four years of my life, this has been by far my most successful venture by any standard.
This past year, the channel totalled more than 25,000 followers, got a new 350-day schedule to replace the previous 250-day schedule, and boasts a library of nearly 2,600 videos and a combined 1,300 hours of content. I also completed a full rewrite of Mr. OTCS, the Python script that drives the channel 24/7, to solve many problems it's had since it took over for my manual runs in 2021. It remains a one-man project since its launch on May 18, 2019. On April 15, 2023, Neon Retrofest hosted a panel conducted by me and FORGOTTEN_VCR on lost media, where we discussed our strategies on curating our material, cultivating our audiences, and the importance on proper preservation of analog video.
The second annual viewer survey was open May 4-16. 144 responses were collected, slightly fewer than the 154 responses from the previous year's survey, which was held between May 1-15, 2022. Several new questions were added to this year's survey. The results from the 2022 survey will be reproduced alongside the new answers where applicable.
(New) Repeat Responses
These questions were included close to the bottom of the survey form, but I'm placing them before all other answers because they provide some context for the following data.
Did you respond to the 2022 viewer survey?
If you answered Yes above, how much do you watch OTCS today compared to 2022?
|Less than in 2022||16.2%|
|The same amount||70.3%|
|More than in 2022||13.5%|
The survey was advertised in the channel itself with a chat command and regular messages until the deadline, as well as on the @OTComputerShow Twitter account. I do not have data on which of these methods was the most effective in leading respondents to the survey, but I estimate most viewers used the chat command to reach it. I also expected that most respondents would have also participated in last year's survey, but this is not the case. This may be because most of last year's respondents did not feel a need to complete the survey again after one year.
How did you discover OTCS?
|Twitch recommendation, including the channels list, front page, the Retro category, etc.||67.4%||58%|
|Twitch raid or shout-out||17.4%||23%|
|Searching, including search engine or searching Twitch itself without using recommendations||8.3%||10%|
|Word of mouth, including communities such as Discord||3.5%||9%|
|(New) Social media post (including Twitter, Mastodon, etc.)||2.8%||n/a|
More than two-thirds of respondents found the channel by using Twitch's own mechanisms for discovering new creators, which reflects the results from last year's survey. A combined 81% of 2022 respondents found OTCS from Twitch recommendations, hosts, and raids, compared to 84.8% this year. Even with the loss of the traditional channel hosting on Twitch, which was supplanted by raids, the number remains high. Also consistent with last year's survey is that a very small portion of viewership comes from outside of Twitch, with the smallest coming from social media.
How long have you been watching OTCS?
|A few days||5.6%||7.8%|
|More than 12 months||50.7%||48.1%|
How many hours each day do you watch OTCS?
|12 or more||2.1%||1.9%|
(New) What times of day do you watch OTCS? (Multiple answers allowed.)
Other singular responses include random times, all day, and during sleep.
How do you watch OTCS? (Multiple answers allowed.)
|Desktop/Laptop PC||88.9%||82.5% desktop, 3.7% laptop|
|Television (game console app, screencasting, etc.)||16.7%||21%|
|Mobile device (including tablets)||24.3%||31.2%|
On a scale of 1-5, do you watch OTCS actively, or leave it running in the background?
|1 (Running in background)||4.2%||8.4%|
|5 (Watching actively)||8.3%||5.2%|
(New) Where do you watch OTCS? (Multiple answers allowed.)
|Working at home (Written-in answer, not including possible combined answers above)||2.1%|
How frequently do you participate in text chat?
Most of the questions repeated from 2022 have similar figures this year, with changes of a few percentage points. In last year's survey, 48% have been watching OTCS for over 12 months, with 50.7% this year reporting the same. 3.5% of respondents watch OTCS for at least 8 hours a day in both 2022 and 2023.
The most pronounced changes are whether viewers watch the channel actively or passively and participation in text chat. More people have been watching the channel actively in 2023 than in 2022, with a shift of about 7% moving from background listening to active watching. However, fewer respondents report participating in text chat, with 71.5% saying they use text chat to some extent, down from 80.5% last year.
Opinions on OTCS
On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied are you with the current programming schedule format?
What is your opinion on the ratio of computer-related content and video game-related content?
|Far too much computer content||0%||0.6%|
|Somewhat too much computer content||8.3%||3.9%|
|A good balance between both||69.4%||79.9%|
|Somewhat too much video game content||16.7%||11.7%|
|Far too much video game content||2.1%||1.9%|
(New) How important is the show title information on the sides of the screen to you?
One of the features that sets OTCS apart from most other 24/7 channels is the on-screen show title and year for every video. Because historical context is a major emphasis of the channel, I always research the year a video was published or broadcast if it's not included in the video itself. There are less than 10 videos total that do not have known years of production. Seeing these numbers validates the effort of individually writing titles, episode numbers, and years into all 2,600 videos.
Compared to last year, satisfaction with the format is up, with the largest changes going from 4 to 5. More respondents feel that there is too much video game content this year compared to last year. However, there is actually a greater proportion of computer content compared to video game content in the new schedule compared to the old one. Ideally, there would be four hours each of computer and video game content for each day's block of programming. Both the current schedule and the previous schedule give more weight to computer content when there was an imbalance between computer and video game shows in a given day's schedule. Some respondents wrote in that because the channel's name is the Old Timey Computer Show, it should present computer shows and nothing else. I will reiterate that video game content was included in the channel from the beginning as a break from computer content and because it is hosted on a video streaming service that prominently features video games.
There is also the persistent complaint about the theatrical productions based on video games. I make an effort to spread these as thinly as I can. I believe the real issue is that I can't find more of them. Most of the shows are based on Sakura Taisen, because I was able to source them easily. I would like to find more such productions on different games and companies, but they're simply not documented as comprehensively.
Do you think there's too many video game shows?
For those who wish for a channel with no video game content, the Patreon goal of 100 concurrent patrons for a second channel is still in progress.
(New) Non-English Content
What is your opinion on non-English content on OTCS?
|Neither like nor dislike||32.9%|
|No opinion/Do not watch non-English content||6.3%|
Would you be interested in a patron-supported fund to commission translations for non-English content?
The majority of OTCS viewership are English speakers, as is the author of this survey. The most common complaint submitted in the 2022 survey is the lack of translations for non-English content, as many viewers listen to the channel in the background and cannot comprehend what is being spoken. Because of this, I included questions addressing the non-English content directly this year.
As I wrote in last year's survey results report, I have also been interested in commissioning subtitles for this material, especially now that there are more Japanese programmes in the channel's library. As of this writing, only three Japanese videos have subtitles, which were created independently. One respondent suggested using free or machine-generated translations until proper translations can be produced, but I would not be able to trust the accuracy of such translations good conscience.
The truth is that as of 2021, I have not been able to find a solution or the necessary funding to establish translation projects for documentaries and shows of technical nature, which are already very seldomly translated by fans. I feel that it would be necessary to at least offer to compensate translators for potential subtitling projects as these would be created for the public good, rather than merely enhancing the channel's content. Income on Patreon is used to offset the costs of upkeep, including electrical and bandwidth consumption, so any compensation to translators would come from my own pocket.
Even though this material may not be fully accessible to non-native audiences, and most respondents leave the channel on in the background, I feel it is more important to include them in the schedule the same as any English video, to show what kinds of computers and video games international audiences grew up with. I believe simply seeing these videos existed is an educational experience in itself. With that said, the majority of preserved videos is Japanese, and I am actively seeking out material from regions outside of North America, Japan, and the United Kingdom to shed light on the visual history of computers in all parts of the world.
Can you translate videos?
Please e-mail me at gxian1 at minuspoint - com if you can assist with video subtitles of old documentaries, particularly in Japanese.
Are you aware of the Google Sheet of source links for OTCS programming?
Do you follow the Twitter account @OTComputerShow?
|I don't use Twitter||42.4%||35.7%|
This wasn't covered in the above questions, but one of the primary goals of Mr. OTCS is the automated creation of a schedule page that can be accessed at any time to preview upcoming programming. I'm pleased to see more people are taking advantage of the external pages, and also that the pie chart generated with this first question looks more like a Pepsi logo.
All of these questions were optional.
What are your favorite shows or types of shows on OTCS and why?
Standout answers include:
- Computer Chronicles and Net Café, which remain the two most popular series on the channel.
- Recordings of lectures. These were uncommon in the early years of OTCS, but I added more to respond to demand to them.
- Bad Influence and GamesMaster, two British video game shows that have been preserved in their entirety, and have always been popular on OTCS.
- 1990s programmes in general were named more popular than any other decade.
- Japanese VHS tapes on video games helped viewers discover retro game series they were unfamiliar with before seeing them on the channel.
These responses are similar to last year's survey.
What are your least favorite shows or types of shows on OTCS and why?
Similar to last year, the most common answer here is non-English video, because they cannot be easily followed by English audiences, or that they possess a different level of energy compared to the rest of the channel's programming. The second most common answer are long tutorials and lectures, which are described as too dry and boring, with the third most common answer naming Apple Computer-themed productions. Apple seemingly produced more promotional videos for their products and services than any other computer manufacturer in the 1980s and 1990s, and because they have been preserved to a remarkable degree, I feel it is important to present them like any other production.
(New) When should the cut-off date be for a piece of audiovisual media to be considered "old timey"?
I included this question because the definition of "old timey" or "retro" or "vintage" is tenuous at best, with no consensus in any field where such labels are relevant. As time passes, more media will qualify as such. There is no hard threshold for publication age to be included on the Old Timey Computer Show, as all inclusions are arbitrary. As of this writing, the newest videos were produced in 2006. There is always a need to expand the channel's library, and newer shows at higher resolutions than 480p will start to appear in the coming years, though the channel itself will always be broadcast in 480p to conserve bandwidth. Planned future inclusions on OTCS include the earliest video podcasts, as they are now valued for their historical context. One of the earliest podcasts that has been preserved is Lab Rats, which was produced from 2005-2011.
Of the write-in questions in this survey, this got the most responses—114 out of 144 respondents wrote an answer, with the others getting less than 100 responses. The most common answer for what the audience considers "old timey" is some variation of 20 years before the present, with 24 out of 114 answers (21.1%, or 16.7% of all respondents) being explicit about this figure. As mentioned above, some material currently on the channel is less than 20 years old, but there were no objections to their inclusion in the above questions. Other answers that gave ranges include 10 years, 15 years, 18 years, 25 years, and 30 years.
Other answers gave specific years or decades, without clarification if these years are a sliding limit. Answers here include the early to mid 2000s, the mid or late 1990s, and the years 1980, 1990, 1993, 2000, 2003, and 2005. Two respondents believe this should be before the introduction of HD media.
(New) Would you be interested in OTCS merchandise? If so, name examples of kinds of products you would buy.
At Neon Retrofest, there was a meetup of Twitch streamers who specialize in retro gaming. I attended it and quickly found that OTCS lacks proper branding, and the best way to advertise to other Twitch users is with custom stickers. With this in mind, I added a question gauging interest in OTCS-branded products. While stickers will be the first product available, the 57 respondents who answered this question expressed interest in T-shirts, posters, mouse pads, and drinkware.
Like last year, all of these questions are optional, and the majority of respondents chose to answer these questions.
What is your age?
|45 or older||17.1%||12.6%|
What is your time zone?
This is asked as an open question. The majority of answers are United States time zones. Standard and daylight saving time zones are combined. Outside of the United States, UTC time zones are used instead.
|Eastern Time Zone (UTC-5)||33.8%||31.7%|
|Central Time Zone (UTC-6)||20.3%||29.3%|
|Mountain Time Zone (UTC-7)||3.8%||2.4%|
|Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)||12%||17.9%|
|UTC (includes GMT and BST)||12.8%||9%|
|UTC+1 and UTC+2 (includes CET and CEST)||13.5%||8.9%|
|Australia Central Standard Time (UTC+9:30)||1.5%||2.1%|
Other single answers include UTC+3, UTC+12, and Hawaii Standard Time (UTC-10).
Where is your home located?
This question asks for broad geographical location, rather than country.
What is your current occupation?
Similar to the respondents who provided an answer last year, the majority of answers include IT positions and students.
(New) How long have you been using computers?
|Since primary/middle school||13.8%|
|Since high school||5.1%|
It wasn't until I was invited to speak at Neon Retrofest that it occurred to me that I dedicated a significant portion of my life to what started as a fun experiment: what could I do to improve the standard for 24/7 channels. I got into watching these channels to catch up on shows I never had the opportunity to watch when I was young. Even though it was a fun time, these channels were fraught with all kinds of issues that no one else watching raised, but I saw as avoidable. I write my own software to solve most of these problems and spend countless hours gathering aging media on a single subject I've been engaged with for my entire life, nearly all of which I wasn't even aware existed. The audience that the channel has attracted are all in agreement, and seeing these responses, criticisms and all, assures me that all of these years of work has been worth it.
Every day on this Twitch channel, thousands of people explore the history of technology telling itself through the unique appeal of analog media. Viewers learn new things about something so ubiquitous through media that has been preserved, but so seldom watched. What keeps people watching isn't just the meticulously planned, year-long daily schedule, but the communal aspect, where viewers from all over the world share their own history and reveal facets of the growth of technology that no media could ever present. It is my hope that as time passes, more people will appreciate the importance of analog media and the efforts taken by people around the globe in ensuring they're not only preserved, but enjoyed by all.
Whether you've been watching for four hours or four years, thank you for supporting the Old Timey Computer Show.