Movies & TV / Columns

Does Binge Watching Ruin the TV Show?

May 3, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Something dawned on me the other day after I watched the last episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: I’m glad they stick to a weekly release and not release the full season all at once. 

Bravo to Disney+ doing some little things like not offering the option to binge watch from the start. 

If you’ve noticed, Netflix has made some programs weekly releases with the idea that drawing out the episodes will increase the value of the show, according to this Yahoo report.
With the streaming field becoming more crowded than ever, will this be a plus or negative?

Back in 2013, beleaguered actor Kevin Spacey spoke at the 2013 MacTaggart Lecture to request that television executives give audiences “what they want when they want it. If they want to binge, then we should let them binge”.

With Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu viewers watched television shows and movies on-demand at their leisure.

A survey from 2017 found that 73% of Americans say they’ve gone through multiple TV episodes in one sitting, with the style of watching most popular amongst millennials and Gen-Z.

But does it really enhance the experience or does it make television even more disposable?

When discussing binge watching, we have to touch on the health risks aspect of it all. In a recent study, people who identified as binge-watchers were 98% more likely to have a poor quality of sleep than those who did not identify as binge-watchers. Research also shows binge-watchers report higher levels of loneliness and depression.

Of course it’s also a good way to relax and de-stress, when done in moderation and depending on your age. The very definition of bingeing is doing an activity to excess so that makes it difficult to balance.

The real question is the experience itself. It’s safe to assume that everyone reading this has binged watched a show. For me, I find some shows are better to binge than others. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy an episode and do something else so you can reflect or enjoy what you just watched.

Going episode to episode with little time to digest what you watched opens yourself up to missing things, overlooking storyline elements in a race to the next episode. The need for instant gratification in TV also impacts how they make a series. Writers now create with that mindset in place and directors steer projects in new directions.

The full effect of how this has fully changed the entertainment will be studied for years. It’s a genie that’s not going back into the bottle and we can assume that the concept will continue to evolve.

Another thing to consider is how binge watching a program shortens that programs stay in the public conscious. Release it all at once and people will talk about it for a week and then move on to the next thing. Release it week-to-week and it lengthens its popularity. That has to translate into something the bean counters can work with when it comes to sales of merchandise and such.

An interesting topic. What are your thoughts on binge watching and what shows are best watched spread out? 

article topics :

Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Steve Gustafson