To binge or not to binge

Friday Netflix released the second season of Daredevil and I had the rare opportunity to watch the entire series. This is such a rare occurrence that the last time I was able to do that was last year when I was on assignment in New York away from my family. Normally I watch an episode here or there especially if I really like something so that I have the chance to really enjoy the story allowing it to bloom like a fine tea. 

This past weekend I binged 13 episodes of a single show before the sun came up on Monday morning and when I came into the office this week I noticed the fallacy of binging a show - most people don't have that sort of time. In this age of disruption and fragmentation of media people consume what they want, when they want it. This is great for the consumer when it comes to choice it is terrible when it comes to the community of media. 

Ten years ago you would hear media pundits and marketers talk about creating "water-cooler moments" which were events in time where people would gather around the coffee maker or actual water cooler and talk about what they all saw on TV last night. This doesn't happen anymore, more precisely it does but in different places like Twitter, facebook, and Snapchat. The problem is when you are watching a show where every episode is out all at once, you lose the ability to share the "holy shit" moments with your friends because you have no idea where they are in the season - or if they have even started yet. 

Which is the point of this type of media, the community that surrounds it. I often use (spoiler incoming) the moment when Frank kills Zoe in House of Cards. If that moment was consumed in a more traditional way can you imagine what social media would have looked like? The earned and shared media for that shared moment in time would have been profound. As it is, it is a fragmented experience where some people watched the weekend it was released, others in the month or months following, and even some this week as they try to catch up to watch season 4 that came out in March. 

Common thinking on this is that the Netflix model is good for TV because it gives the choice to the consumer and in a way that is correct. But what it also does is strip away the community aspect of the content and places it on an innovation curve which might stifle some of its growth in the long term. 

Think about Star Wars this past December. The innovators and early adopters vowed not to share anything on social media in regards to spoilers for one week, after that you were on your own. This was an entire community deciding that the content was so good they wanted everyone to enjoy it in its purest form in a theater with others who would be equally surprised. When there is a shared experience between humans psychologists call it "flow" and it most certainly can happen in the digital as well as the physical space. The caveat is that the people reaching flow have to be doing or consuming the same thing at the same time in order to get synced up. It doesn't work when the people are not in the same chronology. 

Everything in moderation my friends. No binging of sex, food, drugs, shopping, gambling, working out, sleeping, studying, and maybe we should think about adding shows to the list of things we want to consume in moderation for the sake of enjoying it on a much deeper level. 

Eric HultgrenComment