The “all you can watch” Netflix distribution model…can we be trusted?

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Netflix are taking over the world, and deservedly so. For under 6 quid a month, what they offer is nothing short of astounding. From whole seasons of shows like 24, Dexter and Breaking Bad, to countless movies. There is always something to watch, and it’s just getting better. There also seems to be no catch that I can see. It just seems too good to be true, when a cable or satellite package can cost about 10 times that. Of course that’s different and you shouldn’t really compare (although I just did!) but if you just want to watch great stuff, when YOU want to watch it, then it’s certainly the cheapest and arguably the best.

The point of this post is really to actually get your opinions about the changing ways we are watching TV. Since the advent of things like Tivo and Sky+ I never watch commercials anymore. If I want to watch a show “live” then, if it has commercials, I start 15 minutes later and then can fast forward through them. I hate commercial breaks with a passion. If only everything we watched was like the BBC (in the UK). No commercials, but of course that’s not financially possible…

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The next step from the PVR was of course “on demand” with the likes of BBC iPlayer and the now numerous other version that broadcasters have. Smart TV’s, Roku, Apple TV and of course games consoles mean these internet based players are now watched from the comfort of your sofa. Much nicer. The same thing has happened to Vimeo and YouTube, but that’s a different post!

So if you missed an episode of Sherlock or Doctor Who, don’t fret! It’s on iplayer!! in HD!!!

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Netflix, though, have gone a step further. With shows like the stunningly good “House Of Cards,” they are giving us the whole season in one big 13 hour lump! We are not at the mercy of some scheduling decisions where it’s on at a bad time for us or, even worse, when there won’t be a new episode for 3 weeks or maybe much longer. We don’t have to decide which day to watch something, we don’t even have to watch it straight away, and there are certainly no adverts. Surely this is the greatest thing ever?

In my opinion, yes and no.

The all you can eat buffet!!! Self control? Damn hard!!!
The all you can eat buffet!!! Self control? Damn hard!!!

We have changed. Our willpower is at its weakest ever. Too many people are unable to exercise self control in today’s society. Be that food portions, Internet use (yes I understand the irony) and with credit, things that we want to own, we buy. Whether we can truly afford them of not! Willpower has never been more essential, but with the ways things have changed and are continuing to change, it’s become really hard to exercise it! It could be argued that we are getting weaker and weaker. We want everything we want NOW! Almost…

My question is with the release last week on Friday of the second season of “House Of Cards,” who will watch one a week? Who will devour them in one sitting? If a show is good, and I mean really good like “House of Cards” how hard is it to ration yourself?

I am sure many have experienced the “24 DVD box set syndrome,” where you caught up on them when they came out as complete seasons, watched an episode and said “last one” only for the last few seconds and something insane happening causing you to scream, “No!!  Let’s just watch one more episode, then we can go to bed!!” #RepeatUntilSeasonFinishes. You may set out to try and ration yourself, but it often and most likely will fail. When faced with all this goodness and nobody telling us we can’t watch them all in one go….?

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A truly wonderful show that never lasts long enough or is on frequently enough!
A truly wonderful show that never lasts long enough or is on frequently enough!

Now the thing is, this is the new model of “broadcast tv”, along with on demand. If this happens, will you miss “appointment TV” especially if others follow suit? Will you miss the excitement of Sunday night for example being “Game of Thrones” night? Most likely you will have watched all the new season in one sitting or perhaps watched all 3 episodes of the stunning Sherlock in one evening, and as the last season was two years after the previous ones, there could be a LONG wait until you can see some more!

Part of me loves the idea of being in control of when and how I watch TV, but part of me worries about the loss of that forced week long wait (let’s ignore US Network shows bizarre way of scheduling)

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There is something communal about so many people watching the same show at the same time. If the Netflix model is taken up by all, there would be no “Red Wedding” moment when we all took to social networking in shock. Spoilers would become so unavoidable, perhaps you would HAVE to watch them all in one go to avoid them ruining your experience! Just yesterday I was reading about how the amount of tweets for Sherlock’s last episode was a record for a single episode of a drama ever, something like 350,000.

Those “water cooler” moments would be gone, you would have to talk about work or even something more tedious, them! I love the build up the tension, the excitement of finding out what happens in the next episode next week. A week where my friends all speculate and re-live the previous episode. This would be gone.

house_cards_season2_appletvI  love being forced to wait a week between shows. Having something to look forward to is essential in life, be it a TV show, a new movie coming out, going out for a nice dinner, a sporting event perhaps, a holiday, and who could forget the fortnightly marital sex in missionary position lasting an epic 4 minutes?

If “Game Of Thrones” all came out in one 10 episode lump, I just don’t know if I could ration them to one a week. I love the show too much and having it there, tantalising me, teasing me like one (or two or three) of Petyr Baelish’s sumptuous ladies in his brothel…“Watch me Philip, watch me now, watch all 10 of us now in one big Game of Thrones orgy!!!” 🙂 Sounds great no? The rather large downside being, instead of 42 weeks between seasons, it’s 364 days between seasons!!  

The future is the internet for watching TV. It’s impossible to deny it. But can we be trusted and would we be missing out on something that brings us together if everything we want is just handed to us in one big lump? Personally I would love it if  Netflix had released one episode a week. It’s how we got Breaking Bad in the UK….of course the reason that happened was because AMC were airing it each week the old-fashioned way first.

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So on that question of self-control and will power. Would any of you like to paid your annual salary on the 1st of January? No more until a year later. Is that a scary thought? Could you see yourself making it last? How much self-control do you have? I could just imagine people going to their Casino and putting it all on black when we all know it’s Red 9 that is the lucky number!

These are VERY  interesting times. As a devoted television viewer (of quality shows I must add) I  would love to hear your thoughts!

In the meantime between watching Frank Underwood become almost as creepy as Ian Richardson in Season 2 of  “House Of Cards” (and yes I am trying to ration myself but I am already on episode 3!) I have just received my box set of season 3 of “Game Of Thrones” I have watched the previous two seasons twice. Now it’s time for this one…and yes episode 9…I am NOT looking forward to that again.

Please do leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

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