Commentary: The Shock Of Binging To Watching Weekly

by Frank Martin

Audiences are in a very tricky spot right now with consuming the entertainment that they want. It used to be weekly at a preordained time or nothing. There were certain ways to get around that, such as recording to a cassette or DVR — or even buying a box set to watch after a season is concluded. Even with DVR, there was still an amount of patience that had to be considered when indulging in a show. This is not necessarily the case anymore as a lot of television has moved to streaming. Even shows that air weekly either on streaming or through cable or network television have ways to be binge-watched. They could either be enjoyed after the season finishes right from the streaming service or even through “on demand” means. But this also means that people that want to continue watching shows after they are caught up on the story are in for a jarring experience.

When in the middle of binge-watching a show, it is extremely easy to consume. Streaming services even have an automatic feature that will just go right into the next episode. Audiences are consuming character arcs and the storylines in short bursts of time. They can watch multiple episodes a day and even finish an entire season in a week. It’s like chugging a glass of water all at once. But when they inevitably have to experience the show weekly, the experience completely changes. They are no longer chugging water but sipping it very slowly over a longer period of time. This can be both frustrating and a little disorienting as viewers have to readjust their expectations and patience for the story.

Where once the audience had complete control over their viewing experience, now it has been ripped from their hands. They could have watched an entire show at their leisure. They can pick and choose when to watch an episode and how quickly they want to move through the season. This stops being the case once they are caught up and the show is aired weekly. Now, the pace at which they consume the show is back on the network or streaming service’s schedule. Of course, this can change if the audience just chooses not to watch episodes as they air. They could absolutely wait until the entire season is finished and then resume their viewing habits. But this is largely a choice. A lot of people experience shows differently whether they binge them or watch them periodically. This was experienced by a lot of people who watched Obi-Wan Kenobi as the show’s pacing was formatted like a long movie rather than a season of television. How and when an audience chooses to watch as a show is just as important as everything that goes into the show’s production. So, audiences definitely need to put more thought into their viewing experience as it can certainly affect the level of entertainment and the opinion afterwards.

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