This summer, I’ve noticed a shift in my consumption of entertainment. With longer days at hand alongside some vacation time, I’ve enjoyed exploring the entertainment options available to me, largely media delivered through my laptop or my iPad. Didn’t everyone used to plop down on the couch with one person wielding the remote control, bringing up the cable menu and debating about what to watch? Nowadays in my family’s house, our TV is rarely on, with the exceptions being Warriors games, the Super Bowl, and the Oscars. Instead, sometimes we sit on the couch next to each other with each of us watching programming of our choosing on our own devices. Sometimes my husband will be watching one miniseries while I stream another. It feels as though we each have our own channels with our own preferences. I’m wondering: does anyone rely on traditional “programming” anymore?
The whole notion of watching TV together has changed. The differentiation of everything is possible now, and a lot of the programming delivered is handled in such a way that content is king. No one binge watches movies, which are a complete experience in 2.5 hours. Instead, we have the ongoing experience of lengthy seasons of shows ranging from politics, like House of Cards, to history like The Tudors, to fantasy, like Game of Thrones, that we can watch and re-watch from the convenience of our devices. The experience of watching the latest season is akin to the hype that builds for a new movie, but it’s not just a one-time experience: it repeats, week after week, until the season is complete. If you’re like me, you binge-watch more on weekends or vacation time, at your own convenience, no longer beholden to a specific viewing time or place or to DVRs, which I believe will soon become as obsolete as VHS and even DVD players. We want our leisure viewing to be delivered on-demand when it’s convenient and desirable for us, and entertainment providers have delivered.
To me, this shift in entertainment consumption in favor of our comfort and convenience is akin to the shift I see in the workforce in favor of the same. Increasingly mobile, flexible workforces seek to maximize their workday alongside maximizing their flexibility for the rest of their life or lifestyle, including leisure time pursuits like watching the latest miniseries. Flexibility is the wave of the 21st century, and I believe we’ll be seeing more and more entertainment trends catering to our desire to have what we want to watch or to play at our fingertips when we’re ready, wherever we are.