I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this headline in the WSJ this morning, Binge Viewing: TV’s Lost Weekends, because it put a name on a habit of which I’m guilty myself.
The article describes how, with the power of DVRs and box sets at their command, viewers are increasingly sitting down and watching entire seasons of shows in one or a few sittings. I’ve done this myself with Firefly, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights and Dexter to name a few. My wife is working her way through the entire Heroes series via Netflix right now. I love being able to watch TV at my pace and really dive into a storyline. Of course, the downside is that the fun is over all the quicker, but to see the entire canvas on which a storyline is writ — that’s delicious and quite satisfying.
For me, I can get a much better grasp of the deeper plotlines when I watch multiple episodes together. The A and B plotlines are fine for intermittent viewings strung out over weeks or months, but to really dive into the C or D plotlines, the ones which only get a line or two in each episode to inch themselves along, this really only works for me during a concentrated session.
For example, we have a fair number of CSI (Las Vegas) season sets in the New York studio and I’ve been able to zip through a number of episodes (in the name of research, I say!). Doing so has allowed me to make much more sense of a particularly interesting subplot involving the personal relationship between William Peterson’s and Jorga Fox’s characters. (If only somebody had put this together in some kind of super-reel…)
I’ve written in this space before about the market potential for Blu-ray sets of current and recently-broadcast HD TV series. We’ve had requests from clients to put together research on the potential market for such product. I guess this kind of viewing behavior has been an open secret.
The success of recent Blu-ray releases of Farscape, DVD box sets of the Six Million Dollar Man, The Sopranos or any of a number of other classic and current TV shows shows that there not a small population who likes to engage in ‘binge television viewing’.
I’m glad I’m not the only one.