Binge watching is the new way to watch TV

Shanel Royal

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A 2012 report by Nielsen said Americans spent 34 hours per week in front of the television. People intend to watch an episode of a show and end up watching 10. This is called binge watching.

Binge watching is a growing trend. It is popular for people to wait until late in a series to begin watching it and then consume the prior seasons in one day.

Watching multiple shows back to back comes with many benefits. For people on the go, inhaling numerous seasons occurs at a chosen time. Not everyone can sit down at 9 p.m. for the latest episode of “Girls.” Viewers with busy schedules pick the time most convenient for them to tune in to their favorite shows.

Students who work and take heavy course loads may not have the time for television, so they miss an episode or two and catch up on multiple episodes in one weekend.

“One day I sat and watched the whole first season (of Merlin) because I was sick and had nothing better to do. It kind of got addicting,” said junior civil engineering major Angela Marino.

Overdosing on television is not a new trend. When shows first started coming out on DVD, many people bought their favorite series so they could watch them as many times as they pleased. For instance ABC’s hit show “Lost” sold more than 800,000 DVDs of its third season in two weeks.

Technology has changed the way television is viewed. People can stream programs on laptops, smartphones or tablets, decreasing the need to pay for cable or premium channels. This makes it simple to watch on the go or wherever they get a chance.

Shows often end leaving the audience in anticipation. Watching more than one episode in a row eliminates the wait after a cliffhanger. With bingeing, people don’t have to wait months until the next season to discover the outcome of certain events.

“It’s better than waiting a whole week for the next episode to come out,” said senior economics major Brian Coleman who enjoys “Sons of Anarchy.” “You don’t have to worry about suspense.”

Drama series, such as “The Wire” on HBO, are popular among bingers because of the drawn-out plot lines. The main story continues in each episode so viewers have to start at the beginning of the series to understand later episodes.

Comedies like “Psych” are less popular for bingers because the plots differ in some episodes. These programs can be watched out of order or started at season eight and can still be comprehensible.

“I enjoy watching shows where I can just sit back, relax and laugh,” said Kelly Dufour, junior liberal studies major. Dufour binges on “How I Met Your Mother.” “It’s kind of a nice break from school.”

Recently Netflix jumped on the binge-watching bandwagon when it released all 13 episodes of its original political drama “House of Cards.” The show stars Kevin Spacey and is reminiscent of a premium channel show, such as HBO, with its explicit content.

The best shows to binge on are ones that have more than two seasons. Older shows such as “House” and “Weeds” aired for 8 seasons before ending.

This shouldn’t discourage people from watching shows with short plot lines. “Two and a Half Men” and “South Park” both have more than 200 episodes and continue to air on television.

Streaming television continues to gain popularity and more people than ever are choosing to watch shows via Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus.

The death of TV is not likely, because instant show providers rely on the content of television networks. With so many ways to watch television, it will be interesting to see the effect of binge-watching on the next generation.

 

Shanel can be reached at: shanelroyal@csus.edu

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