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Binge Watching: Is Television The New Movies
The War on Drugs
First off, you should already be aware that television is a drug. No really, well at least I think so. What else can you call something you use to take the pain away and escape reality that can also become addictive? But this is a marijuana type drug. If used in moderation it can be a benefit. I probably just won over some pot heads. Smoke up my friend and read on.
If you do not know the two characters above, then you are either new to the binge watching phenomenon or unaware or uninterested.
This promotional still comes from "Breaking Bad" one of the most popular shows and maybe at this time THE BEST example of a "binge worthy" show. First lets try and understand what "binge watching" is. This is what the WikiGods say:
Binge-watching, also called binge-viewing, is the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, usually of a single television show. In a survey conducted by Netflix in February 2014, 73% of people define binge-watching as “watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.” Binge-watching as an observed cultural phenomenon has become popular with the rise of online media services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime with which the viewer can watch television shows and movies on-demand.
Wikipedia traces the history of binge watching back to the 90s, when people would buy a dvd set of a show and watch a season on their time. All in all I think it's interesting how things work in society. Something that a few people did decades ago, explodes in 2013. I have an idea why. Don't worry I have not forgot about the title of this article, I will get to what I feel about this phenomenon taking over a night at the movies.
It all started for me back in the early 2000's.
I had just had some kind of surgery, I think it was hernia. So I'm on bed rest for about a week or so. There's no way around the fact that I will be stuck in my little world inside this tiny apartment. Of course I had my delightful painkillers to make the time go by a little easier, but as I turned on the tube I found myself getting bored. I don't recall how it happened, but somehow I got a hold of my sisters DVD of "Smallville" the first season. I started reading the back, checking out the synopsis. Now I'd seen commercials for this show which at this time was in maybe the 3rd or 4th season or so and I'd possibly watched an episode or two mainly by just having the TV on that channel while I was doing other stuff. So I start laughing. Superman as a high school kid. How the hell are they going to make an entire season about that?
I pop in the first DVD and the first thing that came to my mind was "Soap Opera". This show is a damn soap opera for young White Kids, what the hell am I watching? This guy hardly used his powers. I want to see more fighting and less talking. I start watching regular TV again. At this point it was mid day, nothing on television worth watching, especially back then. I pop in the next DVD. Why not? Now I start seeing a few plot twists. The characters are becoming a little more interesting. Every episode is ending with a cliff hanger now.
Like I said I had my painkillers back then so some of this is foggy, but I can remember going through a few seasons that week and I liked it. Fast forward I get back on my feet and go back to work. Life goes back to normal and I kind of forgot about the show, that's until I was at my friends house and noticed that he had every season on DVD. I was surprised he watched the show and told him I had seen a season or two and thought it was alright. He lets me borrow the rest of the seasons. Blah blah blah, I eventually finish them all off on days off, free time, etc. On my own schedule, never really tuning into the current episodes being shown on TV. I go back and drop off his DVDs. While putting them back in their place I see countless other seasons. This guy must have spent a lot of money on these things. I end up with the show "The Shield" next. After that "24". What the hell was happening here?
Just In Time
Some of these guys are so smart.
My opinion; After 9/11 people stayed in the house a little more. Rather it was fear or simply lack of money, people were in the house watching the boob tube. By 2008 when the financial crisis hit, a trip to the movies was well planned out and dissected. People lost their jobs, money was tight. Families had to find cheaper ways to entertain themselves. Enter a show like "24" above. Agent Jack Bauer is like a real life James Bond, but from the good old U S of A. He tortures people and kills terrorist to make sure we all stay safe. What perfect freaking timing was this show? Wow the first season was November 2001? Let's that's 1...2..yea 2 months after September 11, 2001, or as we now know it...9/11. CHA CHING!!!
Just like .coms, Reality TV, and Skinny Jeans, the Binge Watching craze was a shift in our society based on events in our society. What happens when you notice a craze or fade? Someone steps in to capitalize off of it of course. Wait...this is the future right. Back in the days when movies talked about the future it was always 2000....something. We are there now. the 2000's. how can we use technology to capitalize off of the uptick in TV watching? Enter The Sandman....
House of Cards?
How Strong Is The Foundation?
There is a company by the name of "Netflix", maybe you've heard of em?
Believe it or not back when I was watching "Smallville" high on painkillers I thought to myself for a quick second, "why do I have to keep getting up to switch the DVD? It would be nice if this was all just on the TV already, so i could just point and click". Hey you snooze you lose right? Oh I'm not finished. IN 2002 Netflix stock price got as low as $5.44 a share. I can't be mad about that, had no idea about the market back then, but in 2009 I tried my hand in the market. It was right after the roof caved in and the bottom dropped in the financial world. I recall looking at Netflix which was trading for oh maybe $19/sh back then and wondering if I should bite. The company had been out a few years and to me wasn't doing too good, so I passed. I passed even though I knew there was something to this binge watching thing, even though I myself wondered about the concept. Today Netflix is trading at about $421/sh. Yea, I said $421/sh.
Right now you can sit in the privacy of your own home and watch not only movies, but movie quality original television series. There's damn good writing and great characters those of which sometimes make the lazy shit that Hollywood puts out equate to VHS in your VCR. I am sorry if you don't know those acronyms, I will not explain them. So what's the future hold for the small screen, which isn't really that small anymore.
The Bigger Picture
Some of you will be upgraded such a TV for the bigger, flasher model come holiday season. Why is that? Why do we spend so much money on flat screens? Think about it. The crap in the theaters not only cost too much, but often leaves you unimpressed (3D is the only savior sometimes). Why not spend a few hundreds on a nice big TV that you can use for years to come? If you factor in the quality shows and Netflix there to give you an endless supply of that crystal blue meth, why do you need the movies?
At the end of the day, I think we'll always need the movies. You can sell the biggest flat screens and produce a million "Scandals", but nothing beats sitting among your fellow man and enjoying an event as a society. The way things are going with this fast moving world, this is probably one of the only ways left for us to interact. Yes, going out to the movies signifies more than dollar signs. It signifies hope that we can still get along with strangers and enjoy something together. For two hours in a dark room, we all have an extended family, and they even have manners. They say excuse me when they walk by.