Is Event TV Better Than Netflix?

I’m an on-again, off-again Netflix member. Whenever network and cable TV goes on hiatus in the winter and summer, I’ll sign up for Netflix again (DVD and streaming).

But more often I’m hearing about premiere dates for a new season of a show I like (Master of None) or a completely new show on Netflix that I want to watch, and I’m finding myself more inclined to subscribe to Netflix and stay subscribed. There’s so much great content there.

However, there’s a downside, as Ethan Anderton eloquently discusses on SlashFilm. Netflix has found success in simultaneously releasing all episodes for a new season of a show, and as a result, viewers miss out on the shared experience of event TV.

Ethan uses a few examples that I can completely relate to. There are shows like Lost, Game of Thrones, and Westworld that present such a compelling story that I want to digest it and discuss each episode before moving on to the next.

Crucial to those discussions is the fact that everyone watching those shows has consumed the exact same content at nearly the exact same time. When I talk to friends about them or look for fan theories online, I know that we’re all part of the same shared experience.

I had a very different experience watching Stranger Things on Netflix. I loved the show, but I felt like I couldn’t discuss it with friends or look up theories because all of the content was already available. The only common point for discussion was after I had finished the first season, but at that point the whole element of speculation and anticipation was gone.

I highly appreciate the Netflix method. It seems like an audience-first method, and I think that’s awesome. But if Netflix continues to create some of the best television content on the planet, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for that content to be released in smaller chunks spaced out over several weeks or months rather than all at once.

It feels almost like blasphemy to say that, given how revolutionary their model is. But maybe you can relate to this? What are some event TV shows you’ve watched and enjoyed the greater discussion about?

4 thoughts on “Is Event TV Better Than Netflix?”

  1. Jamey,

    I’m not a huge consumer of video content, but I do have my grail shows…Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire, and a few others. I enjoy the fact that there’s anticipation built around a Game of Thrones-type show in which you’re forced to wait week after week, especially as the show has diverged so much from the books. On the other hand, even when Netflix “drops” an entire season of content (House of Cards), I can savor each one, allowing myself two months of entertainment, as I’m generally not a binge watcher. I guess for me, I enjoy the Event shows (years ago I religiously watched “24”) and the office discussions which accompany them.


  2. This isn’t even a network television vs netflix thing – this is a serialized vs all in one thing. And while the first time the latter format for television is viable outside of one offs… It’s kind of interesting we’re seeing movies swing the other way, arguably since Lord of the Rings, with Star Wars as an ongoing story once again (expanded upon the past two times it was – with side stuff to allow it to be an annual franchise as well as the main Episodes), and the MCU capitalizing on it with 4-5 films a year some more standalone than others, making up a shared universe and telling a coherent narrative between themselves.

    I’m sure a balance will be struck at some point, with Netflix and other streaming television providers starting to work out what works better to be released in what I’m going to refer to as a novel format (where each episode is the equivalent of a chapter) for first release, and what as serialized format (Where each chapter works as a standalone entity in and of itself, ideally, but the important aspect is released one piece at a time), but for now… Well, we have Netflix vs broadcast television, and I’m going to be very interested to see how this upcoming four episode Watership Down adaptation is released seeing as it’s a Netflix (Usually does television as Novels)/BBC (Usually does television as magazine serialization, even when the program is an iPlayer exclusive) coproduction.

  3. I started Legion recently and now that I am up to speed, I wish I’d have waited for the full season to be out because the wait is terrible. I haven’t watched anything “new” since Lost or BSG.


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