Is Binge Watching the New Standard?

The way we watch TV has changed dramatically over the past few years. It was essentially unchanged from the late ‘40s until the late ‘70s. At that point, home video started to become a major factor: people could now watch what they wanted, when they wanted, and were no longer limited to just what aired on television. Videotape gave way to videodiscs, and now we also have streaming.

One unexpected thing to surface with the rise of streaming is the art of binge watching. Instead of running one episode of a program, people will now sit through several in one sitting. TV production companies have certainly taken notice and responded with programming that encourages you to keep right on watching. That’s why so many shows nowadays are serialized: you can’t follow what’s happening unless you have seen them all and they hope you can’t wait to get on to the next episode. Netflix is even designed to simply lead you directly into the next episode of that same series.

Previously, the only way you could do this would be to record a bunch of episodes of a program off TV, or buy them in a DVD boxset. Of course, having them this way ensures that they will always be available when you want. Services like Netflix routinely rotate their offerings, so you might watch something and then come back a few weeks later and find that it is now gone.

Putting that aside, let’s say you don’t care about having your own video library and are only interested in what is currently available. Nothing wrong with that. However, binge watching can be a major time suck. Hours can pass without you realizing it. People who want to cut back on the amount of time they spend watching screens will certainly not benefit from having this temptation in front of them.