Has Binge Watching Ran its Course?

Will Disney+ follow HBO’s model of weekly episodes rather than the Netflix model of binge watching?

Shows survive for many reasons. Great storylines & writing, amazing directing, fantastic characters and top of the line showrunning. Evolving technology has also had a hand in both the creation and sustainability of a shows and its rapid advancement has helped lengthen the reach which these shows can make contact with audiences. Before you had to wait 5-10 years for an Anime series to reach the USA from the date it airs in Japan and now they are broadcasted together on the same day on opposites sides of the planet or are available anytime you want in case you miss the show. For the most part we would all agree that this new accessibility favors both creator and consumer but I’ve began to wonder if it is more of a hindrance to the evolution of audiences and sustainability of entertainment media as a product.

Binge Watching (the act of consuming TV or Film Series in a single sitting) has become an unfortunate normality within society, specifically I speak for American society. We are the champions of “Over” (Overeating, Overmedicating, Overindulging, Overkilling) and we all know it to be true because we are all guilty at some level of doing it. It’s a cultural nuance of this country that may be far past the point of fixing while still in the very early stages of Sodom and Gamora.

Anyone who owns some kind of streaming service, from Netflix to Hulu to Amazon Prime to HBO to even local channels and major TV networks to now major Hollywood production studios to sports networks to even independent services that cater to a specific genre- has binge watched and allowed hours of sitcoms new and old to take over their realities. IMO it won’t be long before cable is phased out completely as consumers cut their connection and networks preferring the streaming format. Perceive this as another gold rush or another dot com era as there will be a lot of services at first but eventually only the fittest will survive. For now consumers haven’t seemed to have caught on to the fact that the more services you subscribe to and the more your total bill adds up ultimately being greater than your original cable bill. For now audiences are content with melting their brains with hours of content.

Is the game on too?

That could ultimately prove troublesome. I mean, look at yourself. You haven’t showered in days, your chest is now doubling as a lunch tray, and you still have to get through the second season of Mindhunter. At least when you were watching Game of Thrones you had something of a life. You went out, be it to put gas in the car and buy cat litter, you still went out. You’d talk about every episode on a weekly basis you the few friends you had on social media and the last crush you have through text messaging. The conversation would stretch the entire season and even off season as we would anticipate every premiere. When Netflix gets a hold of you, you’re ordering litter online and uber eats so your Jabba the Hutt ass doesn’t have to move. It’s already the lightweight litter man!

Soon Disney+ will be beamed directly into our cerebral cortex. My plea to the Mouse God is this: Release episodes on a weekly basis. Not a season at a time. Not only do we need people to regain their lives but the hype of the shows will be stretched out over weeks and even reaching GoT levels of enthusiasm. When Netflix was releasing Daredevil and other Marvel properties it was exciting when the new seasons were released but by the following week everyone had watched the entire series and the conversation was over. People had moved on to the next show. Though one can make the argument that The Netflix Marvel shows were all for the most part great entertainment, the enthusiasm did not last long and never really spread beyond Daredevil. As good as Luke Cage was it didn’t really blow up. Jessica Jones came the closest with an equal 3 seasons but the show tended to drag at times and again went on without a peep. There was barely any conversation about season 3 as it was released after fans knew the show was cancelled.

Don’t make the same mistake Disney. There will be enough content on the service to keep people busy between shows are released weekly. I even urge Netflix to consider doing the same. Stranger Things 3 would have benefited greatly from this as the season 3 finale would’ve just aired this past week. With all the great reviews it was guaranteed to dominate everyone’s entertainment conversation for two months rather than two weeks.

I could be alone on this but I don’t like the way we are churning out films and shows, devouring and spitting them out and forgetting them without an afterthought. I mean I love that there is this rush for content and opportunity for creatives to entertain and outlets for them to do so but I don’t like how we are seemingly taking it all for granted. Marvel busted their ass for ten years to give us one of the greatest cinematic moments in history and people are already blaming them for wanting more control of Spider-Man (a character who they created) when Sony has done nothing but fail with the character (IMO with the distribution hands of Disney Into the Spider-verse would tripled its box office gross).

When everyone was watching the final seasons of Game of Thrones it was amazing to see the world get together every week for this event and then talk about it. No matter who you were with if you needed a talking piece you could count on GoT. Shows on Netflix may create great shows but the talk around them doesn’t seem to last long. That worries me when these shows are being made with so much passion and then being cancelled because audiences are spread thin and waiting to catch up. Without giving the show room to grow you risk diluting the content.

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