Netflix pioneered the craze of “binge watching” or the act of watching several episodes of a show consecutively. Their biggest hits, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, have their entire season available on Netflix all on the same day. The combination of Netflix’s popular original shows being built for one’s binge-watching pleasure, combined with the millennials’ need for instant plus the peer pressure of finishing the season before anyone else has led to the rise of binge-watching. Although that may all be changing soon.
Amazon - the path less taken
In order to be competitive in the streaming space, Amazon veered off the Netflix path and released a new episode every week for their original series. Unless you were a Prime member, of course. Amazon’s main goal was to drive new Prime memberships and this strategy paid off because memberships rose 23% in Q1. Prime memberships do have their other perks and Amazon has not officially released any real data about how many Prime members are using their Instant Video or how many are binge watching their programs. So these results are slightly inflated. However, Amazon has shown this model can be successful and that sometimes quality programming can be savored.
Netflix defies itself
Despite being the biggest binge watching enabler, Netflix is moving away from it's old ways. For their latest show, Between, they will be releasing one episode per week. Now there are some legal issues as to why this Canadian original can only permit Netflix episode to air one episode per week. However, it is interesting that Netflix was willing to defy itself for this show. This show could be a guinea pig to test limiting other shows in the future. Perhaps hinting at what's to come for Chelsea Handler's new show in 2016 which is rumored to be a weekly wrap up show. Although still not much is known.
Even Netflix’s darling Jenji Kohan, creator of Orange is the New Black, is not a fan. She makes an excellent point that one of the greatest aspects of enjoying a television show is sharing that experience with other fans. Binge watching has removed that pleasure by making it a race to see who can finish the series the fastest rather than everyone being at the same pace.
There are also the health risks. Although we have known about these risk factors for years (i.e. couch potatoes) with the rise of binge-watching doctors and researchers are raising concern about the damage sitting in front of a screen can do to your body. The ownice is on the viewer. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other services can provide you with hours and hours of entertainment but that doesn’t mean you have to consume it all in one weekend.