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How Netflix Is Setting the New Norm in TV Watching: The Viewer Is In Control

Thompson on Hollywood By Chris Dorr | Thompson on Hollywood February 19, 2014 at 1:21PM

Netflix released the second season of "House of Cards" on Friday February 14, 2014. All thirteen episodes were immediately available. My wife and I viewed 5 of them in one afternoon. We plan to complete the season within the next week (or not). Like other Netflix subscribers we choose how and when we watch the new season.
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Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in the second season of 'House of Cards'
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in the second season of 'House of Cards'

Netflix released the second season of "House of Cards" on Friday February 14, 2014.  All thirteen episodes were immediately available. My wife and I viewed 5 of them in one afternoon. We plan to complete the season within the next week (or not).

Like other Netflix subscribers we choose how and when we watch the new season.

This is called “binge” viewing. It seems an odd word to describe this phenomenon. As in “binge” drinking for example. We immediately picture someone who gives into his worst impulses and has no control.

Curiously it is just the opposite. Why? Simply put, the viewer controls the experience. This option breaks the standard release pattern for new “TV” episodes.

The standard pattern forces you to wait for the right moment on the right day for the episode to magically appear. The control resides with the linear network -- not with you.

We are also watching "True Detective" on HBO, a show that runs for 8 episodes, released one at a time. You can’t see them all at once, even if you wanted. You are not in control.

Read the rest of this article at Digital Dorr.

This article is related to: Television, TV, TV Features, Netflix, House Of Cards, Digital Future


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.