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How does binge culture affect viewer experience?

It is more convenient and fun

By Jaleesia Fobbs

Streaming services have given viewers instant gratification through content anytime and anywhere. Services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime give consumers the opportunity to be able to watch original content and catch up on both old and new series from their phones, computers, or televisions. What has emerged due to streaming is binge culture. Rather than having to wait a whole week to watch a show, people can now watch whatever series they want, whether it’s on the air or off, at whatever hour they decide is convenient for them.

People don’t have to worry about missing an episode because they can easily queue up the next one and watch them back-to-back. Everyone has those moments when they watch a show and the episode ends on a cliffhanger and leaves on hiatus until the show returns again. Being able to binge-watch means people get a much bigger and faster payoff when it comes to the plot and characters in the TV show. They are also more likely to pick up on more themes, Easter eggs, and clues to get a better understanding of the show as a whole.

Often in today’s fast-paced and busy world, it seems as if there aren’t enough hours in a day. Binging is a way for people to reclaim their time and attention, and do something they enjoy on their own time. Binge-watching shows can feel like a reward after a long and strenuous day, as it gives people the opportunity to sit back and relax. One of the big advantages of binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime is that people are able to get it over and done with quickly and preserve free time to do other things. It takes less time to catch up to everyone else without becoming further behind as more episodes are released. Plus, binging gives people a sense of satisfaction when they get through to the end of the season.

It removes emotion and suspense

By Alexander Elmore

Television is a special medium, as its structure allows for shows to easily create suspense and emotion in its audience. Now, with streaming services as the most often used format to consume television content, a culture of binge-watching has become a way of the future. While many think this new way of watching shows is better than waiting for the next episode, binge-watching is not all good.

Binge-watching ruins emotional aspects of the show. When originally created, television had the perfect formula to allow for suspense. Since audiences had to wait an entire week, or at least 24 hours for the next episode, the show could end on a suspenseful note: the audience would have no choice but to ponder the outcome of the cliffhanger.

Now, with binge-watching, audiences consume entire seasons of a show in a matter of days, if not hours. This oversaturation gets in the way of the same sort of suspense that could be created if the audience didn’t have access to the entire season at once. Yes, suspense and emotional drama is still possible within the shows—in season finales, for example—but it isn’t as effective when there is not time between the question and answer.

Aside from ruining the building drama of shows, binge-watching is harmful on a societal scale because its oversaturation reaches a massive audience. Perhaps binge-watching started as a way to continually consume media that the viewer likes, but it is now about consuming media at such a pace that the viewer does not have time to process the media itself. Binge-watching is actually designed to cater to shorter attention spans with short episodes that trick the viewer into thinking they have not spending that much time watching something, when, in reality, they are actually spending hours doing so. It simply feels shorter because the episodes are easier to sit through and require less concentration.

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