The wait for a weekly TV show versus binge watching a show quickly

We are far into a world where viewers of television shows can watch season after season of a show. Whether through a streaming service, on DVD, on a DVR, or on-demand, fans can watch everything right in a row. Depending on the length of the series, this can go relatively quickly or stretch out a while. Because of this possibility, I just recently started a list of TV shows where I have seen every episode and most of this has happened in the last ten years.

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In contrast, I had two primary options in the past: watch episodes as they aired each week or watch an occasional episode. For the first, I only really remember doing this for a few shows. The most memorable is Lost. We started watching late in Season One and did not miss a weekly episode for years. The show certainly took advantage of this with numerous cliffhangers and important episodes to start and close seasons. For the second option, I saw a number of TV shows through syndication as they worked through their cycles. For example, I am not sure I ever saw Frasier in its prime-time slot but I saw nearly every episode because of the 2+ episodes that there on every night.

The two types of watching are very different. Binge watching allows viewers to take it all in quickly. I can enable mass consumption. Feelings come and turn quickly with changing narrative arcs. The weekly or episodic watch required a certain discipline and memory or the kind of show where one could easily dip in for a few episodes and then tune out for a while. The resolution of stories takes longer.

It will be interesting to see how shows continue to navigate these options: release everything at once or a show at a time? How long can a traditional TV model of shows every week hold on? Or, will we see more hybrid approaches where episodes come out in different batches tied to story lines and times of the year?

My public library is also a free video store

I recently saw my public library’s latest annual report with these figures on items borrowed:

WarrenvilleLibraryBorrowing2015

While books are still the largest category, it isn’t much of a drop to the next category of DVDs. One interpretation of this data? The DVDs are nearly as important to the library’s patrons as DVDs. This makes the library one of the best video stores around with free prices and a decent selection.

Here is the stated mission of the library:

It is the mission of the Warrenville Public Library District to collect, organize and make available the representative records of humanity’s actions, concerns and aspirations. It exists for the common good to support a literate and informed citizenry.

I know this trend has been underway for a while now as the DVDs might help keep people coming to the library and we certainly live in a visual culture. But, it would be interesting to think about how all those DVDs contribute to supporting a “literate and informed citizenry.” Of course, some could argue not all or even many books meet this guideline.