- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

LAKE CITY, Pa. (AP) - It’s no secret technology is changing our television-viewing habits.

Americans are increasingly engaging in a practice known as television binge-watching - going through several episodes of a TV show in a single stretch. In the old days, of course, people watched one episode a week. That changed with digital video recorders and Internet streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. DVDs and online services also make it possible to start shows from the beginning, even years after the finale has aired.

I used some recent trips to finish Showtime’s “Dexter” and start CBS’ “The Good Wife.” In between, I breezed through Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black” and the second season of “House of Cards.” I have about 50 series on various watch lists - and people are continually recommending more. I know what I’ll be doing this Labor Day weekend.

So why am I unhappy about this new way to watch TV?



The biggest challenge with binge-watching is avoiding mentions of plot twists and other spoilers in the news media, on social networks and in casual conversations. Although friends on Facebook restrain from giving specifics, they often say enough to signal that something surprising just happened. Please! When I got to one of those episodes in question on “Game of Thrones” last year, I thought to myself, that’s it? It became a letdown rather than a shock as fans watching at the time experienced it.

Worse, I knew how the serial-killer drama “Dexter” ended long before I got to watch the final season during a trip to California this summer. Yes, it’s my fault for not keeping up; the finale was shown last September. But this column is about what I miss about watching television the old-fashioned way.

I also know what’s coming on “The Good Wife” three seasons from the one I’m currently watching. Then again, hearing about that plot twist this spring got me interested in the legal drama. Amazon Instant Video made it possible to start watching from Season 1.



Aware of how it feels to hear about spoilers, I’m careful not to “spoil” others. But it’s hard to keep track of what I can say to whom.

“How I Met Your Mother” ended its nine-year run in March. To minimize the risk of spoilers, I watched it the day after the finale aired on CBS. But my friends were still months behind and weren’t available to discuss the meeting of the mother with me.

Same goes for “Breaking Bad,” which ended last fall after five seasons to critical acclaim. It’s a show many people want to watch, but relatively few have finished. Will you hurry up so I can talk about it?


Story Continues →