All posts by frisketmcbisket

Synthesis Matrix

How is binge-watching effecting people physically and psychologically?

Binge-watching is physically and psychologically detrimental to people because…

Names of Authors Watching multiple episodes of television series takes people through emotional highs and lows, leaving viewers emotionally taxed. Binge-watching reinforces the trend of instant-gratification which is already pervasive within society. Binge-viewing is highly likely to develop into an addiction, making TV shows and movies like drugs that companies can peddle to viewers. A sedentary lifestyle, as one that comes from binge-watching, leads to health complications and a quicker death.
Smith, Chris

 Greg Dillon, an associate professor at Cornell, said that by the end of binge-watching, a viewer is less receptive to the emotional and psychological ideas being presented  Deborah Jaramillo, an assistant professor at Boston University, stated that young generations will derive pleasure from “Now-TV” instead of “Weekly-TV”  Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University, explained that after the pleasurable act of binge-viewing, the withdrawal makes one physically sad
Ladue, Michael

 Mitch Hurwitz, head writer of Arrested Development, warned viewers against binge-watching as it would lead to “comedy fatigue.”  Netflix is like an indulgent parent, offering unlimited sweets to a child with no limitations. In a word, this activity can be described as unhealthy.
Devasagayam, Raj

 Binge-watching creates an emotional reliance on television and characters  Viewers regularly become fully addicted to shows just to know what’s happening and can then talk with their friends  Chemical imbalances in the brain during binge-viewing create a trance-like state.Long periods of inactivity are known to lead to heart disease and obesity
Stone, Jeff

 The idea that TV is something that one can control at will is very attractive to the instant-gratification centric youth of today.  The article includes a list of the 10 shows one MUST watch this summer, begging viewers to become addicted to all of them
American Heart Association

“Adults who watch TV for three hours or more each day may double their risk of premature death compared to those who watch less”“As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging.”
Mahanti, Anirban

 “I believe content
personalization will play a big role in taking the viewing experience to the
next level.” 
 Internet usage is over-taxing our current infrastructure, which would be simple enough to replace, but viewer’s desire for bandwidth availability at all times prevents this from getting off the ground.
Heid, Markham

 Constantly changing visual stimuli is impossible for the brain to ignore, according to Robert Potter, a professor at Indiana University.After about 30 minutes of binge-viewing, the brain starts to produce endorphins that reinforce the pleasurable feeling of constant stimulation.


 When binge-viewing is complete, the endorphin withdrawal is physically and psychologically depressing.
Marsh, PamelaFerrao, Zeus

Anuseviciute, Gintare

 Activities that take time and those that people derive great pleasure from have been displaced by the instant-gratification of binge-viewing  Men are more invested in their binge-viewing experience.Women binge-watch to a greater extent than men  Men are more likely to recognize the “dark” side of binge-viewing and its deleterious effects


Ladue, M. (2013, June 12). Will Netflix Kill TV?. . Retrieved June 2, 2014, Link

Smith, C. (2014, January 16). The Netflix Effect: How Binge-Watching is changing television. . Retrieved June 2, 2014, from Link


Devasagayam, R. MEDIA BINGEING: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INFLUENCES. Once Retro Now Novel Again, p. 56-59. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link


Stone, J. (2014, June 30). Binge-Watching ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘House Of Cards,’ ‘Game Of Thrones’ Is The New Normal For TV Fans. . Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link


Mahanti, A. (2014, March 5). The Evolving Streaming Media Landscape. IEEE Spectrum,18, 4-6, from Link

Heid, M. (2014, July 9). Your Brain On: Binge Watching TV. . Retrieved July 15, 2014, from Link

Marsh, P., Ferrao, Z., & Anuseviciute, G. (2014, July). Tune In: The Impact of Binge-Viewing. . Retrieved July 15, 2014, from Link

My Because Clause

My main claim is as follows…

Binge-watching is psychologically and physically detrimental to viewers because…

1. Watching multiple episodes of television series takes people through emotional highs and lows, leaving viewers emotionally taxed.

2. Binge-watching reinforces the trend of instant-gratification which is already pervasive within society.

3. Binge-viewing is highly likely to develop into an addiction, making TV shows and movies like drugs that companies can peddle to viewers.

4. A sedentary lifestyle, as one that comes from binge-watching, leads to health complications and a quicker death.


According to Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez (2014), Chair of the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, viewing television and movies is a major sedentary activity and signs show an increasing trend toward all sedentary activities (American Heart Association).

Robert Thompson (2014), the Director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University, stated that binge-viewing is such a pleasurable experience that one is left physically sad when the binge is complete.

In an article by Shape Magazine, Robert F. Potter (2014), Director of the Institute for Communication Research at Indiana University, said that the constantly shifting patterns of light and sound produced by visual media is nearly impossible for the mind to ignore. 

Research Nugget 4

Cramer, B. (2014, July 15). Research Shows Netflix Can Capitalize on Binge-Viewing. . Retrieved July 15, 2014, from Link

The article makes the argument that digital media providers, Netflix especially, should be putting ads in their services. Research shows that advertisements leave a greater impression on binge-watchers, creating room for VOD (Video On Demand) services to change how they do business with advertisers. Netflix, one of a few VOD providers which do not show ads, could take this opportunity to show ads in their service for a lower cost instead of raising the price of subscriptions, the author suggests. In short, ads are more targeted and more persuasive to binge-watchers.
“Statistics reveal that ads make more of an impression on binge-viewers. 20% of binge watchers discuss ads with peers compared to 10% of non-binge viewers. 15% of binge viewers share ads on social media versus only 7% for non-binge viewers. The study also found that 21% of binge viewers say they remember the ads, compared to 10% of non-binge viewers. Considering these statistics, VOD services should be able to charge advertisers a lot more for ads shown during binge-viewing.” 
Binge-watching is creating viewers that absorb information more easily. This makes media consumers more susceptible to the ads they view, not to mention the mind-boggling tediousness of uninterrupted television. Advertisers should be wary of this phenomenon, as it opens them up to price-gouging by VOD services. If research suggests that viewers are more likely to remember an advertisement while binge-watching, companies are likely to raise the price of placing ad content on their websites.
“Binge viewers are typically young. Research shows that 80% of Generation Y, 68% generation X and 49% of baby boomers are likely to be binge viewers. In a survey, 826 out of 1,307 respondents above the age of 18, who watch televised content for more than five hours a week, were also binge viewers.”
Given that 63% of respondents to the survey were binge-viewers, and in such a small sample size, it is not surprising that binge-watching is a cross-generational occurrence. Though primarily focused in younger age groups, as they have an abundance of free time, a great number of young and old professionals engage in such bingeing behaviors.  People of all ages enjoy television, so it would make sense that their viewing habits would not be dissimilar.

Reid, M. (2014, July 9). Your Brain On: Binge Watching TV. . Retrieved July 15, 2014, from Link

The article reviews the physical and psychological effects of binge-watching over the course of 4 different periods of viewing: Turning on the TV, 30 minutes into viewing, several hours into viewing, and turning off the TV. Each viewing time has it’s own set of drawbacks and possible benefits. Overall, binge-viewing is an exercise in dumbing down your brain to it’s basic functions, and the desire to repeat this activity.
“Press power, and your room fills with new and constantly shifting patterns of light and sound. Camera angles pivot. Characters run or shout or shoot accompanied by sound effects and music. No two moments are quite alike. To your brain, this kind of continuously morphing sensory stimulation is pretty much impossible to ignore, explains Robert F. Potter, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Communication Research at Indiana University.”
This statement is made in the context of what happens when one begins to view. Each new environment, character, and special effect is translated into new stimuli to hold the viewers attention. This creates the effect of being mesmerized, drawn in so intently that the media is all that matters. As previous articles have alluded, and as Lay’s advertisements would have us believe, “you can’t have just one.”
Like any addictive drug, cutting off your supply triggers a sudden drop in the release of those feel-good brain chemicals, which can leave you with a sense of sadness and a lack of energy, research shows. Experiments from the 1970s found that asking people to give up TV for a month actually triggered depression and the sense that the participants had “lost a friend.” And that was before Netflix!”
This is in reference to the endorphins released when watching visual media for extended periods. This release of chemicals calms viewers, puts them at ease, and elicits happiness, among other things. By cutting off one’s connection to these naturally-produced chemicals is damaging to the brain, in a manner. Withdrawal from pleasant experiences invites people to engage in pleasurable experiences again, to even become addicted to those actions. As other authors have already confirmed, binge-watching is addictive, and now we know the chemical basis for that addiction.

Marsh, P., Ferrao, Z., & Anuseviciute, G. (2014, July). Tune In: The Impact of Binge-Viewing. . Retrieved July 15, 2014, from Link

Many revelations were provided by doctors Marsh, Ferrao, and Anuseviciute. The study shows that binge-watching is almost evenly split between VOD services and broadcast television, as well as a difference between men and women in viewing habits. Men are more likely to binge “by appointment” while women are more impulsive in their viewing habits. One final revelation is that binge-viewers are more accepting of ads, as outlined in Cramer’s article on the study. Otherwise, the study reinforces many of the findings of other researchers.
“Binge-viewing is a frequent activity done mostly during prime time and occurs primarily at home through a video streaming service or broadcast/cable TV.”
Data suggests that the majority of binge-watching is done in the evening, when prime-time shows are airing. Most of this is conducted through a television, bringing me to a realization. Binge-watching can not only be conducted by watching multiple episodes of the same show, but by watching several individual episodes of different shows in succession as they air. Even if 50% of bingers use VOD services, 43% use broadcast television. This has changed my preconceptions of the definition of “Binge-Watching.”
“Despite a conventional wisdom that binge-viewers are avoiding ads, they are not only tolerant of ads, but are even more receptive to them compared to non-bingers. Binge-viewers are twice as likely than non-bingers to see and share ads on social media, as well as talk about ads with friends and family – marketers could leverage binge-viewers’ engagement with ads and look for cross-marketing opportunities and branded integration efforts with the most popular programs.”
In this context, consumers assume that ads come with the territory, as they were primarily raised with the idea that shows have ad-breaks. Netflix is one of only a few services free of ads, so to assume that viewers expect no ads online is foolish. An explanation as to why binge-viewers are more receptive of ads than non-bingers is not provided, and I would not venture a guess as to why. However, given the researcher’s conclusions, it would be prudent to expect branded product integration to become more of a part of binge-viewing. The question is: are ads more effective during periods of binge-watching, or do people just like talking about them?

Synthesis: My required research has come to an end, and I have seen where researchers agree and disagree. However, as I read these final three sources, as well as other recent sources, it has become harder and harder to find points of disagreement between authors.

Reid’s article lines up with every finding of the American Heart Association, IEEE, and a number of respected psychologists. Binge-watching takes the viewer through a gauntlet of emotional, psychological, and physical peaks and troughs. It is highly addictive, makes the consumer highly suggestible, and leads to a shortened life. No matter how one puts it, binge-watching is detrimental to the viewer.
This would have been damning enough, but then Cramer had to write about Marsh and her study. It grants us a small view into the mind of the average binger, and it does not paint a pretty picture of binge-watching. It is set as a reflection of instant-gratification, as an escape from the busy lives people lead. Binge-watching is a distraction from daily life, a mass opiate for the proletariat. The sad part is, people don’t realize the harm that they are doing to themselves, and as binge-watching becomes more accepted, the effects will only spread faster. Advertisers will sling their swill more easily with a complacent, depressed society seeking to fill a void in their hearts left by TV, and the only one’s to suffer will be the consumer.
Binge-watching may be beneficial to viewers sensibilities, wanting to catch up on shows and be socially current, but at what point does social currency lose to emotional and psychological degradation?

Research Nugget 3

Binge Viewing Now Pervasive in UK, US. (2014, June 16). Retrieved July 11, 2014, from Link


The article states much of what was already revealed by other authors, but expanded that focus into other nations. Binge-watching, or binge-viewing as it is increasingly called, is up since last year by record amounts. This includes a nearly universal 99% of Chinese viewers admitting to binge-viewing. The article expands on the tendencies of binge-watchers and the activities consumers engage in while binge-watching.

“Other findings of the research were that more than 80% of the Chinese and 60% of the US and UK respondents multitask while watching entertainment – saying that they were likely to use multiple devices to do something related to the content they are watching.”

Binge-watchers tend to multi-task when viewing content, begging the question: In what activities do they engage? This author suggests that users are linking activities with shows, perhaps through twitter or facebook. However, other articles I have previously read indicate that bingers engage in a multitude of activities not linked to the shows they are watching.

“This year, we found that consumers want their entertainment ‘selfie-style’ – content centred on them, immediately gratifying, engaging and shareable across their social networks. Brands that can successfully deliver or enhance compelling entertainment to consumers stand to gain through positive word-of-mouth and association,” said Gail Becker, president, strategic partnerships and global integrations, Edelman.

Again, the author has confirmed what others have stated previously: viewers value instant gratification and engagement. This is not bad in itself, however combined with television’s need to satiate its consumers, we may head down a slippery slope. Other articles I have placed in this blog have warned against our culture of instant gratification, and with TV’s desire for more viewers, I fear this indulgence will only continue.

Campbell, T. (2014, June 30). A season in a day: new TiVo research analyses binge-viewing. . Retrieved July 11, 2014, from Link

The article reveals the findings of a study done by TiVo, analyzing the habits and practices of binge-viewers. Many viewers binge-watch as a way to catch up with shows that they can then watch as they air. Other’s wait until a full season has finished, only to digest the whole of it in one or two sittings. The article also confirmed what the previous selection and many other’s have as well, that binge-viewing is becoming far less taboo.

“Respondents cite the desire to “catch up” on TV and “only having learned about the show after many episodes had already aired” as their top drivers for binging. Twenty-nine percent of respondents deliberately put off watching an entire season of a show until they could watch the whole season at once, a trend TiVo Research expects will only grow.”

It would appear, as many other authors would agree, that binge-watching is utilized as a tool of social economy. People use services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Itunes to catch up with other viewers, so that they might discuss the show. Others would use these services to ingest entire series, entire shows, that they might enjoy what their friends already have. There are many reasons behind binge-viewing.

“Beyond binge-viewing three or more episodes of a series in a day, TiVo Research’s survey also investigated another binging habit: Watching an entire season (or more) of a specific program over multiple days. Three-quarters of survey respondents reported participating in this type of “super-binge” activity, with 14 percent having done so in the prior week and 23 percent having done so between a week and a month prior to taking the survey.”

Few people watch an entire series in one day, according to Mr. Campbell. But is this surprising? Think of how long an episode of television is, likely between 20 minutes and an hour. Then think of how many episodes are in a season or series, between 13 and 24. Devoting that amount of time to a single endeavor is grueling, and this so-called “super binge” would certainly be draining to any viewer. I submit that this would be one reason why few viewers engage in super binge marathons.

Mahanti, A. (2014, March 5). The Evolving Streaming Media Landscape. IEEE Spectrum,18, 4-6, from Link
The author provides a general overview of streaming-media, not only as it is, but as it will be. Media-streaming has already changed the way people consume and process content. The shear amount of articles on the advent of binge-watching and its effects is evidence of that. However, providers must change to facilitate viewer’s desires. The article discusses improvements to not only existing internet infrastructure, but on the services themselves. He calls for greater personalization and infrastructure designed for modern internet traffic.
“Major television networks have realized the importance of offering online video services through a model known as “catch-up” television. The BBC was one of the pioneers of catch-up services in which programs that have been broadcast are uploaded to a portal, and consumers can stream them at their convenience using a special-purpose application, such as the BBC’s iPlayer running on a device of the consumer’s choosing. Unlike traditional VoD services, catch-up services make content available for a limited period following the program broadcast; these availability windows are sometimes based on content licensing agreements. Catch-up television services are becoming increasingly popular, and in some countries, such as Australia, their consumption figures are rivaling those of traditional television viewership.”

As in previous sources, the idea of catching-up is prevalent here. With a name to put to this phenomenon, we can see that all of these authors agree that “catch-up television” is one of the primary uses of media-streaming services. As the author states, some content is only available for short periods of time, enforcing the need to binge in order to view this media. I must ask, are content licensing agreements designed to be short to enforce binge-viewing?

“With respect to adaptive-streaming, the industry has been able to draw on a large body of research on rate-controlled video-streaming. With on-demand streaming’s increasing popularity, we will probably need to innovate even more on content delivery systems.”

Mahanti is speaking on the quality of streaming and quality of video, but his point evokes something larger. On-demand streaming’s high popularity will undoubtedly increase, which will create a greater strain on the existing internet infrastructure. Replacing the existing infrastructure will be slow, and providers will need to compensate for this decrease in streaming speeds. The cost of higher streaming speeds will fall to the consumer, you and I, increasing the cost of viewer’s addictions.

My synthesis is sprinkled throughout my nuggets. If that’s not alright, I will create a separate synthesis upon instruction.

Concept Experience 5

Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.
Head Like A Hole
In order to sign up for Facebook, users must click a box saying they agree to the Facebook Data Use Policy, giving the company the right to access and use the information posted on the site. The policy lists a variety of potential uses for your data, most of them related to advertising, but there’s also a bit about “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” In the study, the authors point out that they stayed within the data policy’s liberal constraints by using machine analysis to pick out positive and negative posts, meaning no user data containing personal information was actually viewed by human researchers. And there was no need to ask study “participants” for consent, as they’d already given it by agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service in the first place.
Facebook data scientist Adam Kramer is listed as the study’s lead author. In an interview the company released a few years ago, Kramer is quoted as saying he joined Facebook because “Facebook data constitutes the largest field study in the history of the world.” It’s a charming reminder that Facebook isn’t just the place you go to see pictures of your friends’ kids or your racist uncle’s latest rant against the government—it’s also an exciting research lab, with all of us as potential test subjects.

Research Nugget 2

Stone, J. (2014, June 30). Binge-Watching ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘House Of Cards,’ ‘Game Of Thrones’ Is The New Normal For TV Fans. . Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link
The title of the article says it all. Binge-watching has become the standard viewing practice for an ever growing number of viewers. Surveys indicate that binge-watching carries less social stigma than last year, and show runners are taking the hint. Producers of television are beginning to tailor their shows to an audience that will view their show between a single day or a month. Binge-watching, yet again, takes the place of catching up on shows so viewers can talk about series with their friends.
“Of the 15,196 respondents, 91% said that binge-watching TV shows is a common behavior and 40% admitted binge-watching a show within a single week. Only a third of those polled said “binge-watching” is a negative term, compared to 53% who said the same in 2013.”
A growing number of people binge-watch television shows. This not only serves to remove the stigma associated with a sedentary activity, but enforces the importance of consuming media honestly. An admission that binge-watching is a habit linked to 91% of a survey is a step forward in media consumption.
“A number of viewers said they watched to keep up with a show, to be able to participate in conversations in their social circle, because their scheduled only permitted watching at certain times, and also because watching so many episodes at once makes the sometimes complicated plotlines that much easier to follow.”
This reinforces a point made by a number of authors on this subject. One of the primary uses of binge-watching is catching up. In our day and age, when life has become much more hectic and planned, it is not always possible to see an episode as it airs. And in our information fueled world, being left out of the loop is close to social suicide. Being able to form your viewings around one’s schedule is an important step forward.
Gortari, F. B., Rastrollo, M. B., Gea, A., Cordoba, J. N., & Toledo, E. (2014, June 25). Watching too much TV may increase risk of early death in adults. . Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link

The report done by the American Heart Association indicates that a sedentary lifestyle is highly destructive and may lead to premature death. The study showed a link between higher rates of television viewing and a greater likelihood of premature death. As the population continues to age, a more sedentary lifestyle becomes common; this will lead to a greater chance of premature death. The AHA recommends a base level of exercise each week to fight the effects of binge-watching.

“Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors,” said Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., the study’s lead author and professor and chair of the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. “Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality.”

Needless to say, staying in place for extended periods of time is intensely unhealthy. As television increases in popularity and viewership, an already popular form of sedentary behavior will continue to grow unchecked. As Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez is quick to point out, a tentative link between television watching as a sedentary activity, and a higher mortality rate, are easy to point out.

“The risk of death was twofold higher for participants who reported watching three or more hours of TV a day compared to those watching one or less hours. This twofold higher risk was also apparent after accounting for a wide array of other variables related to a higher risk of death.”

“Researchers found no significant association between the time spent using a computer or driving and higher risk of premature death from all causes. Researchers said further studies are needed to confirm what effects may exist between computer use and driving on death rates, and to determine the biological mechanisms explaining these associations”

The following seem to indicate a contradiction or sorts. The first represents an increase in death due to sedentary activities for extended periods of time, confirming what was already stated. However, the second nugget excludes computers as a medium through which binge-watching can be achieved. Researchers do admit to a decided lack of certainty when it comes to this topic, so I will wait for their correction before further scrutiny of their research.

Devasagayam, R. MEDIA BINGEING: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INFLUENCES. Once Retro Now Novel Again, p. 56-59. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link
The study explored the effects of binge-watching media on a number of age groups, and their reactions to said media. Viewers ranged from ages 17 to 70, with most focus groups reacting differently to stimuli. Older participants viewed shows as background noise primarily, whereas younger participants openly admitted to watching season of a show in a single day multiple times. Age seemed the primary factor in this survey, as no indication of income level, location, or social status entered into the survey. Findings suggest that companies are seeking to create “addict-viewers” to increase profits, an ethical dilemma with which the author struggles. Their preliminary findings indicate a relationship of dependence between provider and viewer, designed by media corporations, and that these tactics are working.
“Recent developments of internet media platforms
such as Netflix and Hulu have shown a profitable
market made up of media bingers. The latest attempt to
capitalize on this group was made by the internet media
company Netflix with their release House of Cards.
This is the first documented, multi episode series
designed to be viewed in one sitting (Stelter 2013).
Creators eliminated the common flashbacks and
recapping segments found at the beginning of
following episodes. Instead, they assume that viewers
are aware of the show’s happenings at every point
during the thirteen episode release (Stelter 2013).
People who are for this style of watching say the ease
of continuation allows for a more engrossing and
satisfying experience (Riccio 2013). Viewers can
commit to their couches and watch without the
irritating inconvenience of commercials and weekly
breaks between episodes (Ricco 2013). Do consumers
actually realize that they are bingeing? What are some
factors that may lead to media bingeing?”
This tells us that Netflix is marketing to the binge-watcher. Designing a show around the idea that it will be consumed in as short an amount of time the viewer has is revolutionary. It also doesn’t pander to the viewer by recapping episodes that were quite literally viewed moments before. This system assumes an intelligent addict, one who has the time to devote to a show. It’s implementation represents, as previously mentioned, a relationship in which companies like Netflix are the dealer, and we, the viewers, are junkies.
“The push of companies to develop a market of
bingers and addicts certainly presents an ethical
dilemma. Recent updates to viewing programs have
created “post-play” features that automatically play the
next episode in a series (Chatila 2013). Viewers don’t
have to physically move to switch to another episode.
Content providers appear to be encouraging people to
binge unhealthily in return for increased revenues.
Again, this is not perceived to be negative in society’s
eyes. Although media companies are purposely
creating shows that form addictive habits in their
viewers, few people seem to see a problem with it.
Popular press articles largely encourage viewers to
binge with promises of a better viewing experience
(Riccio 2013). An easier understanding of characters,
ability to find small plot developments and a more in
depth analysis of show events are all reasons suggested
in these articles.”
Binge-watching, if you read the article, is intended to increase profits. Content providers are kind enough to add a feature that continues play without need of moving, thereby removing the exercise gained from moving one’s fingers on the remote, controller, keyboard, etc. The promise of a better viewer experience holds the benefit of more content absorption, but the detractor of slowing killing the viewer.
And thus we must get to the crux of the issue, is binge-watching good or bad? The authors seem to agree that binge-watching is a slippery slope,  benefiting companies more than the viewer. With health risks from a sedentary lifestyle, and a system design to create dependence and addiction, the last two authors recognize the injury this practice has done to viewers. However, the first author, and in part the third, focused in on an important note: Are viewers happy? The answer is unequivocally yes, and isn’t that all we can ask for from Netflix?

P.S. Please forgive the formatting, I have no idea why it did this

Research Nugget 1

Ladue, M. (2013, June 12). Will Netflix Kill TV?. . Retrieved June 2, 2014, Link
The main point of this authors argument was that the Netflix model, as he puts it, may ultimately spell the end of the way people have viewed television shows for years. The advent of binge-watching has created an environment in which the old form of episode-per-week is losing popularity. Established relationships between companies will crumble, which has caused television executives much worry. In essence, Netflix has the potential to kill TV as we know it if Netflix’s model is adopted more widely. The author’s eventual point being that Netflix should adopt the television broadcast model to save the industry from destabilization.
“The service is a massive hit. Netflix currently takes up one-third of all the downstream bandwidth the web can provide. The average subscriber watches 87 minutes of programming per day. While short of the 18-24-year-old live television average of 3.5 hours per day, that latter number is split across hundreds of network and cable channels. Netflix has a captive audience.”
Ladue is quick to point out the enormous impact on the internet Netflix has. Capitalizing on that much bandwidth is impressive to say the least, but when considering that an average subscriber is on Netflix for an hour and some change each day, one must consider the mark on viewer’s lives this service leaves. Netflix has become an important part of people’s day, and it should be recognized for the impact it has had.
“Original shows ushered in using the Netflix model, like House of Cards and Hemlock Grove, have cut out the advertisers. Netflix functions as the network, and if the company decides to evolve from simply licensing original programming to actually producing, they’ll be the studio, too. Netflix is making all the money, monopolizing our attention and making poor consumers out of its subscribers. If this model becomes the norm, the producer/advertiser relationship will be pushed to the breaking point…
But what happens once Netflix reaches the point where profiting only on its own original programming makes more sense than continuing to pay licensing fees, which will skyrocket as the studios jack up prices due to diminished on-air returns? Netflix is positioning itself as its own network, assembling a lineup of programming that will survive the inevitable scripted network TV apocalypse. And once the people lose instant access to former network favorites like How I Met Your Mother and The Office, they’ll rebel by cancelling their subscriptions, the fees will also increase as competition is defeated. But by that point the damage will be irreparable – both television and Netflix will be dismantled by the impatient viewer.”
Netflix seems to have broken a paradigm that has been established since the inception of television. Without advertisers, studios and producers are not paid, broadcasters have nothing to send to viewers, and television as we know it ends. An entire industry destroyed by innovation. Ladue seems a bit alarmist, and submits a statement admitting this, but he is justified in being alarmed. The article makes a convincing, though not well-rounded, argument for why Netflix might kill television, thereby spelling its own doom.
Smith, C. (2014, January 16). The Netflix Effect: How Binge-Watching is changing television. . Retrieved June 2, 2014, from Link
The article discusses the psychological issues surrounding the Netflix Effect, otherwise known as binge-watching, a topic covered in the last article. Smith’s main argument is that psychologists and psychiatrists agree that binge-watching is unhealthy in a number of ways. The first he lists is emotional battery, in which a subject is exposed to so many highs and lows in an episode that it drains them emotionally. He then pivots to our nations growing desire for instant gratification, which Netflix is only encouraging. Smith ends with a discussion of addiction and Netflix’s role in fostering a need for media.

“It’s like you’re punch drunk, and saying ‘come on feed me another one,’” Greg Dillon associate professor of psychiatry and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College says, of the effects of binging on modern television drama shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. “Even a single episode has so many highs and lows that by the end of it you’re so beaten up, you’re less receptive to the emotional and intellectual ideas being put forth. Yet still we click and watch another one.” – Chris Smith

The television format was designed for greater story-telling ability to be flexed, for a longer tale to be told in more detail. Through this, viewers connected to characters and the issues they dealt with each week. By binge-watching, people are depriving themselves the experience of mulling over an episode for a week and pondering what might happen next, which would increase their attachment to the show. Instead, people are desensitized by repetition.

“Those final eight episodes of Breaking Bad… now that was an extraordinary experience. From the countdown to it coming back from the mid-season break to the anticipation of a new episode on TV each week… wow!” Said Thompson. “That was just a different kind of buzz that [binge watching] doesn’t give you.” Ironically enough, the week-to-week format we enjoyed/endured during our last hours with Jesse and Walt proved to be an anomaly for millions who latched on to the growing buzz and raced through the previous five-and-half-seasons during the 12-month pre-climax hiatus – the binge before the episodic storm. Many caught up just so they could be part of the ending as it happened, so they could join in on the conversation rather than cover their ears to avoid spoilers. Breaking Bad, as it turned out, bridged the two eras perfectly, offering a stunning paradox of each distribution model’s merits.” -Chris Smith

As with the last author, Smith is quick to point out the benefits of each medium of delivery. In order to watch a critically acclaimed television show’s final season, millions binge-watched the preceding four.

At this point I would offer that Netflix and television have their place. The former as a method of catch-up or to watch a show at one’s own pace after completion, the latter as a delivery mechanism for the emotional and psychological attachment that a television show is capable of producing. This seems to be what Smith suggests, until he discusses addiction with Doctors Jaramillo and Thompson.

Netflix produced shows do not have planned commercial breaks, but maintain that intense cliff-hanger at the end of each episode. This is done intentionally, as viewers can decide to be connoisseurs and end the viewing there, or addicts and barrel through the next four episodes. The formats are intentionally different, but Netflix leaves the decision up to the viewer as to how much of the show is desired to be consumed, a point covered by the previous author.

Both men seem to understand that Netflix is innovating in an unapologetic fashion, without regard for the established norms of television. Each makes an argument as to why Netflix should join the ranks of the current establishment, but neither makes an argument as to why innovation is a bad thing. Placing more control in the hands of the viewer does not have to degrade the value of a television series.  The most important point both articles raise is we need to be wary of how we consume shows. Beware, and watch in peace.


P.S. Still trying to find a scholarly article on the Netflix effect, but the deadline in nearing and I’m not sure if I’ll make it. Submitting now just to be on the safe side.

UNIV 200: Inquiry and the Craft of Argument, 006

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