Movies & TV / Columns

How Has Binge Watching Changed Television?

October 20, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
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Back in 2013, fallen 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 the rise of Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu viewers can now watch 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.

Personally, I’m watching one episode of The Haunting of Hill House a night and found it has improved my watching experience. On the flip, I plan on binge watching Making a Murderer Season 2, for them most part.

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. Until then, what are your thoughts on binge watching and what shows are best watched spread out?

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Hulu, Netflix, Steve Gustafson