I might be psychic with TV viewing

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Guest Writer Tom Schultz, Morning Show Host – 97.1

I recently spent a entire weekend, on the couch, Friday night through Sunday evening, binge watching a tv show on one of the numerous streaming services. It doesn’t matter what show it was or which service it was, the crux of the story is how long and intent I was on watching the entire season of one of my favorite programs in what could be considered one sitting.

It wasn’t the first time this phenomenon has happened to me. I would say I have probably spent approximately three or four weekends out of the year doing this with several other programs. I’m not proud of the fact; I’m just saying that’s the way it is these days.

We watch tv differently now than we did 10, 20, 30 and certainly 40 years ago. I’m of the age of only three network channels, a PBS station and one or two UHF channels (that you had to find on an entirely different universe). We had rabbit ears, we had rotating outside tv antennas and we were the original remote controls for our fathers. “Hey kid, get up and change the channel” our dads would all say to us. Technology sure has changed the viewing experience for us.

As matter of fact, I can remember making a futuristic prediction with some coworkers around the turn of the century…you remember the whole Y2K thing right? About this time, Cable tv had really come to the forefront. Cable news and other channels were part of our daily lexicon. And I quite distinctively saying to my colleagues that, mark my words, one day TV would be like a jukebox, where you could pick any or whichever show you wish to view. And lo and behold, I believe we are nearly there.

Today, we can dvr our favorite programs and time shift them: simply watch them at our leisure. Most viewing systems have an On Demand feature that allows us to call up the shows we want to watch and when we want to watch them. “Your wish is our command” the cable systems would have you believe, as long as you pay the price they demand.

And now thanks to the internet, we have numerous online streaming services. They services not only play old time favorites but offer original and riveting programming…competing very successfully against the traditional tv networks. Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix have fundamentally changed the way we watch TV. Want to watch six seasons of your favorite sitcom in 10 hours? Sure, no problem.

Which brings me to another point. Is this binging watching really good for us? Are we missing the fun and anticipation of waiting for next week’s “what comes next”? Years ago we would wait months and months just to find out who shot J.R. Now, that’s just one plot line of what essentially has become a 10 to 13 hour movie version of our tv shows.

I don’t know what the answer is myself. I’m not psychic when it comes to this topic. On one hand I love the gratification of seeing what’s next immediately, but I also like the excitement of what is coming up in another episode next week. There has been some recent research that the “binge watching” effect may actually be more detrimental than conventional viewing.

All I know is now I have more viewing options than ever before. I could literally spend all my time and all my money watching, streaming and on demanding thousands of tv shows and movies. My only real question is when I would find time for the most important things of all…the sofa nap.