Theatre Thursday 4/21/16

We, as a society, are quickly descending down a hole of streaming content. In some ways the eager gorging makes sense. For the most part, past show times and content were dictated to us. Options dramatically increased as cable networks and premium channels grew out of network TV. Compared to now, where entire seasons drop all at once, we still had fairly limited choices. Now, in our brave new world, only self-control stands between us and the hefty stream of material at our finger tips. Turns out that human beings aren’t necessarily that great at self-control.

Binge watching or bingeing integrates a term that already implies excess. We reflexively derisively refer to it, recognizing the negative potential that so much so quickly entails. The problem isn’t necessarily in the provider. It’s amazing and wonderful that so much high quality content can arrive all at once. The problem lies in the viewer’s self-discipline. We determine, for better or worse, our own fate.

For certain shows I really miss the longer opportunity to digest material. I liked reading well-thought out material and hearing well formulated opinions.

I’m basing most of my opinions on experiences with moderate to heavy use of Netflix, very light use of Amazon Prime, and living American life. Based on those experiences I would suggest, surprise surprise to those who know me, adopting a middle ground. “Everything in moderation, even moderation - Oscar Wilde (I think).”

I believe a season should only drop 1/2 at a time. In essence it would just end up createng two shorter seasons in one, but with the opportunity for season long story arcs to span the length. This approach could even potentially start only in the second season once response is established and gauged. In my view this method would allow both the service to advertise more while also allowing the viewer a little more time to digest. I know the era of the full single episode recaps no longer exists but this way, partial season recaps could issue along with an additional opportunity for speculation. Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu could advertise season 2.5 or 3.5 while also allowing additonal time for the audience to really chew on the material. 

I know, for me specifically, I benefit greatly from an extended chance to rehash material. Part of the benefit to everyone involved is making it more memorable - which I would assume platforms would want (?). In fact, there have even been whole movies that escaped my memory partially because they were never reiterated to me. A mediocre movie may contribute to my lack of recollection as well as no reiteration but the risk of non-success should have factored in well before the reiteration stage. In fact none of the potential negatives that already exist with the production of content really change much. The only thing that really changes is that the opportunity for discussion and advertising and marketing increases with some additional paticience from the audience. 

In reality, a person would have a difficult time viewing an entire season of something in one sitting (and while I know they do, I don’t really want to encourage it). It’s called bingeing for a reason and just as I don't see excessive consumption of drugs as a plus I don’t see excessive consumption of media content as a plus either.

I think the way I propose providing content still allows for large intake but the intake is slightly regulated by circumstance. And that regulation allows for the content to play a more prevelant role in life. Additionally, each episode takes on more importance and must therefore be better because it comprises a larger proportion of the segment from which it came. Self-discipline it seems doesn’t have too much of a downside.

Unfortunately, what I suggest will never happen. Something being “bad for people” won’t necessarily discourage anyone. If one platform decides to limit content a competitor will release all at once and consumers, thinking that bigger must be better, more is always preferable to less, won’t take the time to consider the nuances. In the American fashion, they will simmply choose to have more sooner and the marketplace will eliminate the more deliberate option. Of course, in the same way, any one addicted to a drug is going to choose more of that drug over health. It’s the same here.

In the end providers just listen to the viewers. If the viewers signify a desire for a more thoughtful delivery then maybe the providers won’t feel obligated to quickly spew it all out at once.