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Thursday, 15 August 2019

Could a return to pre-bingeing days heighten our enjoyment of the TV shows we love?

In the internet age of instant gratification, a return to pre-bingeing days could actually heighten our enjoyment of the TV shows we love: Recently released historical miniseries Chernobyl has drawn almost universal acclaim for the richness of its storytelling, but its depiction of the notorious 1986 nuclear meltdown is so vivid and gruesome as to make it impossible to binge, Tim Bradshaw writes in the FT. And although Netflix and other streaming platforms have built their business models on making viewer consumption as easy as possible, with the “bingeability” of a series being a sign of how good it is, watching Chernobyl in instalments actually enhanced Bradshaw’s appreciation of it, and his viewer experience as a whole, he continues.

What might this mean for streaming platforms? Psychological studies show that being able to delay gratification brings many long-term benefits, including a heightened appreciation of whatever it is you’re experiencing. As far as the battle for streaming primacy goes, Bradshaw advocates for an imaginative appraisal of the bingeing model, and how it could be altered — by adding a 24-hour time limit between episodes, for instance. “A new approach to scheduling could crank up anticipation for the next instalment or build the loyalty that comes with habit,” he says. Convenience may sell, but it seems there’s still room for a little innovation in how we satiate our appetite for entertainment.

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