Binge Viewing, the Second Screen, and the Future

This is how I watch TV

I read an excellent article by Neicole Crepeau called Re-thinking the future of TV in the Age of Binge. The article made some interesting points about binge viewing and also about the increasing use of a second screen.

Since the readers of this blog are the people who make the web sites and apps that constitute the second screen, I think this topic is of importance to web educators and web developers.

My Binge Watching Habits

I love binge watching. I do it all the time via Netflix or On Demand. Recently I’ve watched season one of The Fall – twice. I also watched season one of Orphan Black – twice.

In case you aren’t familiar with either of these series, The Fall is a mystery drama starring Gillian Anderson as a police detective and Jamie Dornan as a serial killer. It’s subtle and nuanced and rich with detail. It’s like reading a good mystery instead of watching a TV series. The two main characters are mirror images of one another – one good, one evil – both meticulously obsessed with what they are doing. The performances are brilliant, the characters fascinating.

Orphan Black is a sci fi story about clones, with an underlying theme of nature vs. nurture. Tatiana Maslany plays the clones – 7 of them so far in season one – in an amazing performance that is truly a master work. She should get every acting award for her performance(s) as the various clones. The technical trickery that goes on so that she can be on screen as two or three different characters at one time is pretty impressive, too.

So I’m loving the characters, I’m loving the story lines, I’m loving the fact that I can watch every episode of a series in a matter of hours or days. I love binge watching.

What else am I doing while watching?

With these two particular programs I’m looking at for more information about the actors and writers and directors. I’m pursuing lines of thought like – Matt Frewer, bet he’s the bad guy, and hmmm, he was just in Eureka, and, yeah, he was Max Headroom. This division of attention probably explains why I’ve watched both these series twice. I miss things while I’m off interacting with the second screen.

Not all the second screen action happens during an episode. Between episodes, I might go to YouTube and look for interviews with the actors. I might read reviews of the shows. I might go to the web site of the network hosting the show and look for behind the scenes video or photos or interviews.

The App Connection

I mentioned the SyFy app a few days back. I use it when watching shows on the SyFy channel. One of the shows (Defiance) that the app syncs with also has an online game that ties in with the show.

I’ve seen other shows advertising their apps and urging viewers to download the app and sync in for more behind the scenes info while watching. I think this is going to be more and more common to the point where every network is going to feel the need for an app that lets viewers interact in real time with what’s on the screen.

Second Screen Conversation

Twitter, of course, has always been the go-to spot for sharing comments about what you’re watching. Now the apps are providing access to this kind of interaction built-in. It might include Twitter and other sources. The app might filter for specific parts of a conversation, such as tweets from the actors. The point is, a conversation is encouraged and there’s an attempt to keep it in the silo of the app or the game or the website.

The Future of Web Education

All this change in the way we experience TV means a huge job market for anyone who can develop apps, or games, or auxiliary materials on a web site to complement a TV program. And that means web education needs to be on-the-spot with instructions for building apps, building connections, building all the complementary information that can help promote a TV show.

And what about the people making the ads and producing the ad content? What about the marketing people who need to be able to talk intelligently with app makers or web developers about how to make ads work in this new environment? What about all those social media experts who will be needed? That sounds like a whole lot of new job opportunities.

Yes, things are changing. Are web educators preparing students for the future? I hope we are.

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