Tales From A Recovering Binge Addict
A few months ago, the independent accounting firm of Schwartz, Schwartz and Schwartz asked some of my girls friends in the TV biz, what were they watching and a few of my female friends responded overwhelmingly with Outlanders, one of The Starz Network’s original dramas. One girlfriend in particular mentioned ‘sexy’ and ‘time travel’. If it’s got spaceships, time continuum stuff and smart female characters, I’m in. And we all like the sexy.
Jump ahead to 3 months later when I finally have time to watch alot of tv. I was prepping for a long flight to China so I downloaded the available 8 episodes of #Outlander from iTunes. As with all addictions, you innocently approach your new drug. My first episode of #Outlander happened in the Hong Kong lounge. I proceeded to binge view the entire 8 episodes of #Outlander over the course of the flight.
The thing about #bingeviewing, which isn’t really talked about so much is that you get into the world of the show (storyworlds) and it’s a real head-trip. You get so immersed in that world that you are living and breathing those characters; it can be very intense and hard to break free. At first you think, i’m fine, I don’t have problem but then you find yourself lying to your husband about what your watching (true story!) Many of my friends have said that when they reach an end of a series after a binge session it’s almost painful to finish; both for the realization it’s going to end and also for how annoying it is that you need to see it to it’s end.
When I got home that night at midnight, I become obsessed with Jaime on #Outlander, I searched for more of him. That character had become a personal friend of mine because I had just hung out with him for 8 hours. I started looking for Jaime, I mean, #Outlander online. I needed to know what was going to happen to him. Clever bastards @Starz had cliffhung the last episode of the first part of the series, the part they had made available for download. The window.
Question, why do networks need cliffhangers in a binge viewing scenario? I had paid per episode. I would keep paying.
What I discovered that night was that if I wanted the rest of the series immediately, I had to subscribe to Starz. Was it ala carte like HBO and a few other networks? Could I just download an app and pay a fee….come on, what gives. After realizing that I had to subscribe to my cable provider rather then just buy a stand along subscription, at 2am in the morning, after a 15 hour journey, I added #Starz to my Time Warner subscription. Yeah, they got me. I ‘increased my bundle.’
Over the next few days I finished the series in a jet-lagged, binge viewing fever through Starzplay on my tablet. Very easy to use but I did not like having a pre-roll dedicated to a ‘scenes from last week’. What did I need that for? I had just ‘binged’ the episode before it. I was in an on-demand environment. #Bingers don’t need reminders. I went back after I was done with the whole series and watched earlier episodes to see if I could see hints of the plot. There was no way to really search for those scenes by plot point or character or significant moment. And I wanted that. I was addicted.
My #Outlander ‘problem’ went on for days. I became so obsessed i made my husband talk in a Scottish accent for a few weeks. At some point after the second week, I declared a moratorium on all #Outlander content. I had to free myself from the tyranny of the #Storyworld. Now, weeks later, I am enjoying the social media and more background on that time in history; the show runner Ronald Moore is a genius (See Battlestar Galactica.)
At a recent industry event, #INCITE by @Natpe, @JasonHirschhorn, a well known media pundit, who runs the respected curator site, @ReDef, answered a question I threw out about my user experience addict frustrations. Jason’s perspective was that it’s early days, a lot is going on and that eventually the networks will catch up to how we are really engaging with the content.
Right now the focus is on creating great content (see ‘Emmy’) and monetizing it’s delivery(see ‘they got me’) and on creating content hungry fans (see ‘irritated husband’).