Hurry Up, Future

Game of Thrones returned to TV a couple of weeks ago, which is generally a cause for celebration. However, being British, I’m always going to find something to complain about, and in this case while the show itself has been great and I’m enjoying it, I can’t help but feel irritated by the time between episodes. It’s not just the wait, but the problems that the wait entails.

Now, this post may just come off as a millennial whining about things that are unimportant, because things are much better than they used to be, and to a certain extent yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m old enough to remember life before the internet; when TV watching was a massive headache where you either sat down at the exact right time or just missed out. I understand that I have things better now than anyone 20 years ago could ever dreamed of.

However, I can’t help but feel that we’re stuck in an awkward limbo between the past and the future, where we have the technology and the means to streamline our entertainment, but a lot of companies haven’t caught up with it, or are just clinging to older models because they assume they’ll be more profitable or they just fear change. What am I talking about? Let me back track a little.

A couple of months back, a new season of Daredevil was released on Netflix. I, like many others, binge watched the show and finished it within a week. During that time, I didn’t have to avoid twitter or watch out for spoilers at every turn, because everyone was busy watching it, and because nobody assumed that just because they’d finished the final episode, everyone else had. It takes different people different amounts of time to watch an entire 13 episode series.

That is, as far as I’m concerned, the perfect way to enjoy TV. I can watch it as quickly or as slowly as I want, and I know to avoid places that will be talking about general season spoilers until I’ve watched every episode.

Contrast that with Game of Thrones, where every Monday I have to dodge spoilers from almost every website I usually visit because the US gets the show Sunday nights and I have to wait until Monday night to watch. I’ve already been through it twice, and I’ll have to go through this for the next eight Mondays. Now, it’s arguable the problem here is that everywhere should get the show on the same night, but the reality of time zones means this will never really work: one area would get it hours before another, and spoil it for everyone else.

I love Netflix for a number of reasons, but the main one is that they don’t feel obliged to release their episodes over time (except, for some bizarre reason, with Better Call Saul, which I still haven’t watched for exactly that reason). Netflix doesn’t judge you if you want to spend five hours in a row watching a show, because it turns out that we’ll all adults and are capable of spending our free time without guidance. Do I sometimes stay up too late to watch one more episode? Of course, but I’m not a child who’s going to eat the whole ice cream tub and then moan when I feel sick. If I’m tired the next day, that’s my fucking problem.

With Daredevil, I was busy on the weekend of its release, so I didn’t start watching for a couple of days. This didn’t matter in the slightest because most people hadn’t watched the entire series by then, so spoilers weren’t out yet. However, when episodes come out one at a time, most people are going to have watched it live, and will openly talk about it. Couldn’t catch the latest episode last night? Welp, you’re probably getting spoiled at work tomorrow.

Everyone can agree that spoilers suck, whether they’re for TV shows, movies, books, whatever. But it’s not just getting spoiled that’s the problem: when people have seen something shocking or revelatory, they want to discuss it. Not being able to, for fear of hurting the enjoyment of others, sucks almost as much as getting spoiled in the first place. For films, there’s no easy answer as far as I can tell, and with everything, there are always going to be that small minority of assholes who somehow derive pleasure from spoiling other people’s fun. However, releasing TV series with all episodes at once usually prevents individual spoilers from leaking out quickly, even from assholes, because nobody dares attempt to post spoilers from the second or third episode if they haven’t seen the rest – there’s a good chance that they’ll end up getting spoiled themselves. Instead, everyone stays quiet until they’ve watched every episode, and then starts talking, and because it takes everyone different amount of times to reach that place, spoilers aren’t pervasive – you can ignore them easily until you’re caught up.

For the consumer, I see pretty much no downside to the Netflix model. If people want to watch an episode a week, they can do so. For TV networks, it may seem that giving away all episodes of a show at once will come with drawbacks, but considering how well Netflix is doing financially, and the amount of original content it’s pushing out (which is increasing more and more), it would appear that giving the consumers what they want is still going to make you plenty of money. Netflix came along and created a new way of doing things, shaking up what everyone thought was possible, and making a ton of money doing it. I’m getting kind of sick of waiting for everyone else to catch up.

In other words: hurry up, future.

/end rant



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