Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Now I Understand Binge Watching

I used to marvel at the entire concept of binge watching. I’d read about people staying up all night to watch an entire season of House of Cards or something and I’d wonder what was on their minds. Why would they do such a thing? Do they need to return the DVD set to a friend? More likely they are watching on one of the subscription services and would be able to watch a couple of episodes per day until they had finished the series. Shouldn’t that be enough? I could not see the rhyme or reason of the behavior at all. That changed the other day. 

No, I am not in danger of binge watching TV shows. But I have come to understand the attraction of it.

I signed up for iFlix this week. It was a simple process, and after a few minutes I was all set up and ready to peruse their catalog and begin watching. The catalog is substantial, and there were many movies and shows that were of interest to me. I checked with the IMDB for reviews of several of the shows, and quickly realized that a few of the ones that interested me were highly reviewed and featured actors whose work I admire.

I began watching season one, episode one of Gotham. The production design is wonderful; the cast is excellent and performing at the height of their powers; the story is clever and the dialog is crisp. Almost before I knew it, I had watched three episodes. (They’re only about forty-two minutes long without commercials or station breaks.) At the end of each episode, a small dialog box comes on next to the credits, saying “the next episode will begin in six seconds.” The easiest thing to do is just let it roll.

I stopped after three episodes, but I could easily understand that if I were of a slightly different cast of mind, or rather younger than I am, I might have watched all of season one straight through, finishing up after midnight. There are several things at work here:

1.   There is no additional fee for watching more content;
2.   Remaining in place and continuing to watch is easy;
3.   You are at every stage interested to find out what happens next; and, most importantly
4.   You no doubt have a long list of entire TV shows that you want to watch.

If you don’t get busy crossing shows off of your to-do list, you’ll never get to see all the shows that you want to watch.

I’m sure that many viewers get a feeling of considerable accomplishment after watching, let’s say, both seasons of Aquarius at one sitting. Mission accomplished! It enables you to move on to the next show, Bosch, let’s say. This kind of positive reinforcement is a strong motivating factor.

I do not expect to sit straight through six or eight hours of TV any time soon. The positive reinforcement that I seek most ardently is a good night’s sleep that starts well before midnight.  But I do understand the concept of binge watching much better now that the mechanism for expressing the behavior is in my power.

Regarding iFlix in general, I give it two thumbs up. 

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