In this day and age, it’s a wonder anyone sits down to watch television as it’s being aired anymore.

With the advent of Tivo Digital Video Recorders, online streaming through sites like, and the iTunes store, young people like myself have begun to ditch their cable bill for a more unwired alternative. It’s given new spark to the old term, “Time Shifting,” which is essentially when a someone records a program for later. It’s what I do when I listen to the podcast of Marketplace every morning on my way to work, and it’s what my girlfriend does when she watches 30 Rock on the web — all 100 percent legal and, most importantly, convenient!

And while our parents may not fully appreciate the simplicity of watching TV on a laptop computer, clearly Nielson says we’re not alone.

According to recently released data from the television watcher-watchers, The Nielsen Company, shows such as SyFy’s BattleStar Galactica, AMC’s Mad Men and FX’s Damages all saw more than a 50 percent rise in viewership thanks to Time Shifting. In fact, the top 10 Time Shifted shows all gained at least 44 percent viewership.

Does this signal the end of broadcast television as we know it? Well, probably not any more than the cassette recorder killed the radio, or VCR killed TV. But what makes the difference this time around, at least for me, is the simplicity of it all. A host of tech companies are betting that you’ll be switching to Internet-based television soon enough. Even Comcast is experimenting with online television with a Hulu-like service for cable, which the company’s CEO Brian Roberts discussed at this year’s Web 2.0 conference (note: video link).

It’ll be interesting to see where this is all headed. And I bet I’ll find out one night when I’m watching the news on my… yeah, you guessed it.

(Thanks to Silicon Alley Insider and their “Chart of the Day“)