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TV watchers are no longer encouraged to "pace themselves" with introduction of binge-watching

Published: Monday, February 18, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:02

Okay, so after the first two seasons of PBS’ hit drama, Downton Abbey, I decided to wait an extra few months for the newest season to premiere on American PBS, much later than it had aired in England.

I didn’t have to, but I liked the suspense of seeing each new episode every week and anticipating a new twist in the drama. It gave me something to get excited about on Sunday nights before the drudge of Monday hit me too hard.

But according to a recent article published in the New York Times, I might be a dying breed – you know, one of the ones who actually waits for a season to run its course  as opposed to waiting until it comes out on DVD or on Netflix and then drama-binging on an entire season in one weekend.

The New York Times reports that Feb. 1 was a big day for Netflix, because they were trying something new.

According to series producer Beau Willimon, of “House of Cards,” a political thriller-esque series that starred Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright Penn, the goal was simple: “”to shut down a portion of America for a whole day,” Willimon said with a laugh.”

The entire series – all thirteen episodes – were released at once by Netflix, to encourage a new TV-watching binge habit. In fact, the series was designed specifically to be taken in all at once.

This article hints that this sort of style of TV-watching could potentially change the way the stories of shows are told and how they are distributed – how often, how long an episode will be, etc. I think if they wanted to release everything at once they could film shows as mini-series, much like many of PBS’ own programming – and just cram an entire storyline into six hours. There is, after watching nearly seven episodes (the full ‘season’) of Downton Abbey in anticipation and okay, just plain addiction to the British wit and dramatics, plenty of time to adequately tell a story, believe me.

And on a similar note, I know a few people who watched the hit drama online as it aired in England – keeping up with it in real-time by way of some rather questionable movie/TV sites that are chock full of ads.

Is it a little too much at once? Maybe. Would I ever “stockpile” episodes of a series just so I could watch it all at once, as one watcher mentioned in the article did? Probably not. But in the heat of the drama of Downton, and my agony over “what just happened and what is going to happen next because of it?!” I might consider an occasional binge.

Now please pass the popcorn. 

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