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Breaking Bandwidth

Reported by IGN’s Adam Dileo, Breaking Bad is now TiVO’s #1 most binge-watched program, according to a recent internal survey.  I, too, have consumed mass quantities of The Danger at home on our first run-through of the show well after it originally began.  Runners-up included other popular favorites of the day such as Netflix’ House of Cards and Orange is the New Black (both of which you totally need to watch).  One may surmise the show’s writing can sometimes be slower than others, but occasionally offer greater numbers of cliffhangers, which may account for a greater share of viewership.  Might also be because everyone you know was once talking about this show, and you owed it to yourself to catch up eventually, or risk being shunned in disgrace forever.


Saved by the bell.

Another interesting note was that a far lower percentage of respondents cited ‘binging’ with a negative connotation only 9 months after the initial study, comparing 53% in April 2013, with about 33% the following year.  It’s probably safe to assume the context is in regards to TV watching and NOT applicable to legitimate psychological issues of excess.


It’s prescription!

In any case, binge-watching has been made easy, cheap, and fast for everyone (sorry, Comcast customers) for the rest of us, which has enabled older generations who had to schedule their day and utilize recording devices around static broadcast slots to catch up on pretty much anything and everything, when you want, however much you want at a time.  From finally getting to see all of the more obscure (but great!) Red Dwarf, to your fifth rewatch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the range of choice you have for what you pay is astounding, provided you have access to a sufficient internet connection.



Over time, we’ve been watching more and more TV in part because of a much more diverse wealth of content available, affordability and accessibility of hardware, and improved efficiency in daily life that allows for super-sized pockets of free time, attractively spent on repackaged content that we can access with a few keystrokes, and escape for hours (days?) at a time.  However, there were times in my youth where I’d watch just as much as I do today; the content was merely several different shows in an evening in their respective usual broadcast slots.

On the other hand, not ALL shows seem better to watch all in a row rather than spread out over time; episodic shows that clear up by the end of each installment or the periodic two-parter are fine either way.  But more continuous, interpersonal dramas like Sons of Anarchy occasionally give me the feeling that some of the character interactions feel samey or repeated because of viewing them closely together, when they were written months or years apart, where the overall plot was developed over a much greater period of time. I generally feel more engaged; closer to the story with the previous episodes fresh in mind; able to more easily connect the dots between episodes being able to blow through the likes of Sherlock, or the variety of comedic daydream punchlines interspersed throughout Scrubs, so it depends on the program whether larger or smaller chunks of time work better for prime time, or relegated to the background while you wait for your World of Warcraft LFR queue to pop.


Gonna have to get good at Tanking.

All-at-once production and writing for newer shows like HoC and OitNB is MADE for binge-watching, and whether they intended it or not, Breaking Bad ended up being widely engorgable as well.  But it represents the shift in watching habits across all shows and media, being available and consumable on command, and the direction more media takes to satisfy our enlarging entertainment appetites.


Sounds familiar