The way we have watched movies and television has changed completely with the internet and websites such as Hulu, HBO Go and of course Netflix. Netflix has become one of the easiest modes of watching television and movies. For new releases, you can get a DVD shipped right to your door, and for old favorites they’re right on your computer and in many cases even your television. But how is this changing the way we take in media?
The term “binge-watching” has been a common description of watching the entirety of a television show in a ridiculously short amount of time. There are some pros and cons to this new method of watching television. Some pros include not having to wait an entire week for a new episode, as many television shows are scheduled. Another pro is not having to sit through commercials to get the content you actually want to watch. Some cons include not really taking in everything you are watching because you are watching so much in such a short amount of time. Watching an hour of a show each week allows you to focus on each episode and process what happened, but a con of a weekly television show s forgetting what happened just before. There seems to be a balancing act of these pros and cons where one does not necessarily outweigh the other.
Another balancing act is the immersion of the audience into the show. Is the audience more immersed when they can watch the show for hours nonstop? Or is there something to be said about waiting a week? When an episode ends on a cliffhanger, you spend the week occasionally thinking back to the show. The characters stay with you while you wait, and the wait is part of the experience. At the end of each episode there would be a teaser for next week and there’s something exciting about wondering what would come next but being forced to wait. I remember teachers telling me how they used to run home from school when they were in middle school and high school or even ask their parents if they could skip a few classes if there was a special show on that they could not record to watch later. This problem does not exist today.
Outlets such as Netflix have made it convenient to watch television and movies that we love. We are able to watch more content because it is available to us and convenient for the modern busy schedule. But there is something lost about the community aspect of watching a television show at the same time as everyone else. It seems that we are heading in the direction of eliminating this form of live television completely and all this media will be placed in our hands right when we want it. Now it’s just figuring out if this is a pro or a con.