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Sep112015

Podcast #704: Binge Watching TV

We have talked about Binge watching on the show many times. It's a relatively new phenomena where you watch multiple episodes of a TV program in rapid succession. In the early days that meant you would buy or rent seasons of the program you were interested in on DVD. Today it can be that or more likely you stream the program from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or the network’s website.

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Binge Watching TV

We have talked about Binge watching on the show many times. It's a relatively new phenomena where you watch multiple episodes of a TV program in rapid succession. In the early days that meant you would buy or rent seasons of the program you were interested in on DVD. Today it can be that or more likely you stream the program from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or the network’s website.

We have never in the history of television had more content available to watch than we do right now. From old series to new made for streaming series you no longer can say there is nothing to watch. But has Binge watching improved the experience? We'll take a look.

Some Statistics

A recent Tivo study says a little more than 90% of you have binge watched television. Seventy percent of the respondents to the Tivo survey say there is nothing wrong with it. Some of the reasons for binge watching include, catching up on missed episodes, finding out about a series a season or two or five after it first aired, and some just want to power through a season without having to wait for the show each week. The undisputed champ of binge watching is Netflix with 66% of the Tivo respondents saying that’s how they binge watch.

It's not all roses for those who binge watch either. Thirty One percent of the survey takers said they have lost sleep because of their binge and 37% say they have lost an entire weekend to the habit. There is another study that binge watching can lead to depression although it may be that those who suffer from depression like to binge watch. Remember the old adage, everything in moderation! It applies to binge watching as well.

Water Cooler Discussions Not What They Used To Be

Who remembers watching Lost and then going to the office the next day to talk with co-workers so that you could decipher the previous night’s episode? It was almost like a ritual that a small group of us would discuss nuances of the show. It made for a nice social interaction with friends and co-workers. Fast forward a few years and now with Twitter you can watch a TV show with hard core fans and get real time discussion or you can interact with the actors after the show with Twitter Q&A.

With binging these social elements of watching programs are no longer there. You may have spent the entire weekend watching Daredevil (Fantastic show by the way) on Netflix but your co-worker is only 5 episodes in. You have to hold back on your enthusiasm in your discussion for fear of a spoiler. Speaking of spoilers, now we have to speak in code to make sure that the person you are speaking with is caught up. We have all been upset with someone who says something like, “OMG, I can’t believe they killed Beth!!” (Spoiler alert, they killed off Beth in The Walking Dead). We have on this very show had to be careful in what we say for fear of spoiling an episode or series for our listeners. How long do we have to wait before we can freely talk about a show without fear of upsetting our friends? Here is a survey from the Sydney Morning Herald:

 

Content Creators Are Adapting

It not just the viewers who are changing, so are the producers of television. It's not very long after a season wraps up that all episodes are available on Blu-ray and DVD ready to be shipped to your door so you can binge. So many of you would tell us that we should watch “Burn Notice” and “The Walking Dead” that we ended up getting the discs from Netflix and catching up in a few weeks. We remember how depressing it was when we ran out of old episodes and had to wait each week for the next one. Although the Monday Morning Debrief, as Ara’s daughter calls it, is also fun.

Creators understanding that we can watch more content at any time are giving us more things to watch. For streaming you don’t need an audience of ten million people to make the show viable. Networks have a finite amount of time to fill so they only want to fill it with shows that draw huge numbers. Streaming can get by on a lot less. Plus, since the show was meant to be streamed the producers don’t care when you watch. As a result more shows are getting green lit. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was passed on by NBC and then picked up by Netflix. It has been a huge success and is nominated for an Emmy.

Do you remember when mid-season finales were big? Well no reason to do that anymore. Also, what about seasonal episodes? Shows that are made available all at once no longer can do the obligatory Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas episode. But is does allow creators to be free from the limits. not having to “waste” episodes based on seasonal elements allows the creators to experiment.

Not fearing being canceled after two episodes allows the creators to develop the plot and characters at a slower pace. Binge watchers may have to wait four or five episodes to get the full picture, but who cares, that can be done before lunch. This way you don’t feel like you’ve invested an entire month on a show before deciding that you don’t want to watch anymore. But others may like the show and at a minimum they will have one season.

You Might Be A Binge Watcher If:  

From the Telegraph in the UK

 

  • You utter the phrase "Just one more episode" more than anything else in the day.
  • You dream about the show you're currently watching and become obsessed with its stars.
  • You forget the names of your friends/family members/other half but can reel off whole character histories.
  • Entire hours/days/weeks slip by without you noticing.
  • You lose sensation in your limbs after sitting still for inordinately long periods of time.
  • When the series ends, you feel completely bereft - for around three seconds until you start on the next one.
  • Your friends/family members/other half recommends a detox.
  • The idea of switching the TV/laptop off brings you out in a cold sweat.

 

Hulu Not So Convinced

Hulu wants you to watch its original programming the old fashion way… one week at a time. Hulu’s thinking is that they want you to talk about a show each week to generate “Watercooler Buzz”.  You can still binge watch older episodes of current shows and past shows. On the plus side, you won’t have to wait until the entire season is shot and edited before they dump it into your queue.

Has the TV Experience Improved?

Well some may say no but we say a resounding yes! There is so much more content on TV and being able to catch up over the summer is a very good thing! Imagine trying to jump into the middle of the series Lost… pardon the pun but you’d be lost. New viewers would be locked out. Bingeing allows new viewers access to great programming. This in turns allows producers the leighway to build complex plots that arc over seasons. It also give producers the ability to develop characters and plotlines that may appeal to a smaller audience than what’s is required for network TV but still viable in the new world of binge watchers.  

Resources

Here are a couple of links that may help you select what to binge watch:

Determine the amount of time it will take if you binge watch the entire series (http://tiii.me). For example, binge watching Magnum P.I. would take 6 Days and 18 Hours. If you want to start watching the Walking Dead you would need to invest 1 Day and 23 hours before the October premiere of season six.

Over at Wired They have a Binge Watching Guide that breaks down a show into who may be interested in it, where to get it, and which episodes you must watch vs the ones you can skip. The shows aren’t listed in an specific order and it's not an exhaustive guide but the most popular shows are there. You can use the search feature with the show’s name to see if a guide exists for that show.

What Are You Binge Watching?

Got a show you are into right now? Share it with us!


 

 

Download Episode #704

Reader Comments (1)

Hey, guys! Just wanted to add a little love for the TiVo Roamio (Worst name EVER!) OTA mentioned on the show. This thing is perfect for our new home out in the country. No cable service but a huge Yagi-style antenna in the attic gives us terrific local TV reception. Interestingly, our <1mb internet service is enough to stream Amazon Prime and Netflix, so good job on the compression algorithms! Not great but you can see what's going on.

And, yes, I have to admit to binge watching Downton Abbey, fuzzy though it was.

September 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRick K.

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