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Binge Watching: Changing the Way We Enjoy Television

With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, binge watching television programs has become a real trend among viewers who, given the content of an entire show in bulk, choose to watch the entirety or majority of a show in a single sitting.

There is definitely a battle between these streaming services and traditional TV providers. Now that companies like Netflix are creating their own content, and successful content for that matter (House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black), the business is really changing. What’s more interesting is that these shows are available in bulk format instead of weekly airings, and they  are commercial free. Companies like Netflix seem to be going the route of great networks like HBO and Showtime, whose content compels people to pay for their services. HBO GO seems to have been a response to Netflix, and Showtime’s content has been conspicuously limited.

It’s not like Netflix will put cable providers, or networks for that matter, out of business. They rely on them provide to create the content that they will eventually purchase. But because they’re creating original programming, giving customers more reason to stay on with them and drawing new customers based on recommendations, the landscape is certainly changing. Cable/satellite providers are really expanding their On-Demand options to compete with companies like Netflix and more precisely, their binge-watching format.

What’s funny about getting a TV show in bulk is that it is both practical and impractical for viewers. With old network content, it’s easier to catch up with a show in order to watch a new season on TV. This is one way that Netflix and other streaming services help networks, by increasing viewers and therefore ratings of their ongoing programs. With original content, it’s always easier to watch a show at one’s leisure because it can be difficult to work around a show’s TV schedule. On the other hand, these companies are also catering to people’s need for immediate gratification. How many times have we watched an episode of a show and wanted to see what would happen next right away? Well here, one is given this very opportunity, but with a lack self control, an episode can turn into an entire season, and one finally gets up to eat hours later with bloodshot eyes and a sore ass.

If you think about it, though, TV isn’t much different. Channel surfing has been rampant for decades. They provide viewers with marathons of TV shows, the earliest form of binge watching, but at least with providers like Netflix, we actually get to watch what we want, instead of hoping to stumble into the middle of ForrestGump on cable, which is the truth of their success. It is the choice that attracts people to these services. TV gives us an illusion of choice, but we are in fact limited to time frames and programming that is provided for us. Netflix is only limited by the content that it can provide at one time, which is sufficient, and we, the viewers choose what, when, where and how to watch movies and television shows.