|Posted on July 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM|
Back in 1985 when I got my first apartment and VHS recorder, I would record my favorite television shows every day while I was working, and then spent one evening a week curled up on the couch, relaxing and catching up. The advent of the DVR made the recording of recurrent television programming even easier to watch television on your terms, and even skip through those pesky advertisements if you couldn't wait for what happened next.
Today, streaming libraries like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime take this type of binge viewing a step further by enabling consumers to access entire libraries of past seasons, making weekend marathon viewing a regular occurrence for many of us. Just last month me and my teenage daughter kicked off summer vacation by watching the first two seasons of Glee on Netflix, often for a whole evening, or an entire Saturday afternoon. My family will also tell you I've been known on a weekend to turn on a Law and Order or Ugly Betty marathon and just "veg" when I'm feeling particularly burnt out on the fast pace of life, working and raising a large family.
The Wall Street Journal Community asked in their Question of the Day "Are you a binge TV watcher?" The choices were "yes", "I used to be" and "no". I answered yes, even though my binges might only occur once a month, and up to once a week during the dead of winter, or when I'm particularly overwhelmed and need to escape. I think they should have provided a few more options.
Anyhow, 55% said yes, 6 % said they used to be, and 39% said No. The message boards lit up with folks weighing in on what their favorite guilty pleasure was. One guy said " 'Battlestar Galactica'. 'nuf said." Another admitted that he got into watching the Soprano's by renting 4 episode videos at Blockbuster, and then watching an entire year over a weekend. He also indulged in the same type of binging viewing The Big Bang, The Wire, and Breaking Bad.
One curmudgeon looked down his nose and said "I find that TV watching is a 'mindless' activity. I don't watch." Well bully for you, sir!
Here's the lowdown about your TV viewing personality, and what your best bet is for scratching the itch:
The Daily Appointment Viewer - When television first took off decades ago, all of us who grew up in that era were appointment viewers. The entire family sat down to watch the popular sitcoms, dramas and variety shows of the day at the time they aired. The television set was a family focal point in many cases. My early years I remember watching Little House on the Prairie every Sunday night, and my big, burly bricklayer father would weep and blow his nose during many of those episodes. I remember watching The Carol Burnett Show, Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie, and Merv Griffin. When I became old enough to stay up past 10 on the weekends, I tuned in to see Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase and Jim Belushi create the best of late night comedy on the groundbreaking Saturday Night Live.
Appointment viewers today tend to be the Baby Boomers, who grew up enjoying keeping their TV appointments as part of their usual end of the day relaxation ritual. If this describes you, then you are probably happy with either an antenna and getting TV for free, or paying for a basic cable package with local network programming. If you want to dabble in streaming, you might want to rent a movie via Amazon Instant Video or Vudu, or indulge in a subscription to Netflix where you can watch such classics from yesteryear like Cleopatra, Barefoot in the Park, Seven Year Itch, or We're Not Married starring Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Ginger Rogers. If you love classic TV, you'll find such oldies but goodies as The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Twilight Zone, The Wonder Years, The Rockford Files, Cheers, or the originally Hawaii Five-O from the 1970s. On my list is watching Saturday Night Live - The 1970s.
Network Television Fan - If you love everything from daytime talk shows to sitcoms, dramas, and great reality series like Dancing With the Stars, but need a lot more freedom and don't wish to keep that nightly appointment, a subscription to Hulu Plus is right up your alley. This streaming service has the most up-to-date library of television programming. If current isn't as important to you, Netflix will do just fine, and they have a much larger and more eclectic library.
Reality TV Junkie - Do you begin googling when the new season of Big Brother will premier months before? Do you enjoy watching past episodes of the salacious antics of the house? Would you like to chat with your favorite stars, and scour the message boards to see what like-minded fans are saying about this season? Without a doubt, SuperPass is the subscription for you. Netflix has a decent library of some favorites as well, like Say Yes to the Dress, Storm Chasers, Ghost Adventures, Toddlers & Tiaras, and The Biggest Loser.
"As an Afterthought" TV Watcher - Yep, you own a TV - a real nice, high definition widescreen, in fact. You might watch the traffic and weather in the morning, but that's about it. You work 60 hours a week, and you've discovered that your mobile device is handy to grab some downtime on the train watching a show. About once a month it would be nice to stream a movie when you actually slow down. You might do well to rent individual titles from Vudu, iTunes or Amazon Instant Video. The good news about these services is you usually have a generous time to watch the content from the time you rent it - but be aware that once you start to watch it, you'll have to watch it within 24 hours. And when your busy schedule finally catches up with you and you actually come down with the flu, go ahead and rent an entire season's worth of episodes. You're worth it!
The Binger - As discussed above, a binger might set aside an entire evening, or a weekend, to watch episode after episode of the same programming until they've consumed the whole season. A monthly subscription all you can eat buffet streaming library like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime is a must have if this is your personality type. Action mystery serial dramas like ABC's Lost has been especially popular for the binger, because the show builds on itself. In order to understand what's happening, you won't want to miss a single episode, or you'll be "lost" (pun intended). Soap operas like Desperate Housewives, or Melrose Place make for some good binging fodder.
Blockbuster Movies All the Way! - You love to see new releases, and are a huge fan of Hollywood's epic masterpieces. Your HD and/or 3D movie screen is just itching to be used for the great works. You'll want to be able to rent newer releases of movies from a service like Vudu, Amazon Instant Video or iTunes. Netflix will leave you frustrated if you rely on it solely, because they simply do not gain access to newly released movies. If you think about it, it makes sense. Why in the world would you rent a movie, purchase a DVD or go to the theatre if Netflix got new releases quickly. But a combo platter of Netflix plus renting movies is a great way to have a well-rounded home streaming situation.
Let me know in the comments below what style you are, or perhaps suggest another style I haven't thought of. You can also visit our comparison page to find out more about these streaming services.
Categories: Just For Fun