It’s been a full month since we dropped our cable and land-line package to become a primarily streaming household, and I think we can say that the results are in.
As with any paradigm shift, behaviors and attitudes have changed. What surprised me, though, was the speed with which the changes were made and some of the more counter-intuitive outcomes.
Our viewing habits changed immediately, of course, as some shows weren’t available to us anymore and other opportunities opened up. But it was the changes in attitude that I found most unexpected. I found that I really didn’t miss some of those “lost” shows, which says a lot about how we were watching them more out of habit than cognizant decision. Moreover, I discovered a heightened discernment in our viewing deliberations. Before, our selections were based mostly on ads and hype, whereas now, our decisions are based on referrals, reviews, previews, and a trial run of an episode or two. We’re also no longer ruled by the tyranny of the DVR. No more “Gotta watch that show to make room for the next episode!”
We’re also less likely to start a show when it premieres. Rather, we’ll wait until it has at least half a season out there, and then we’ll binge on it. This brings a lot of advantages, but the most unexpected is that, in a binge, you get a greater sense of continuity and plot development. Taking in only one episode a week attenuates the story and character arcs in a way I never noticed before. Now, as an inveterate binge-watcher, I experience the whole as a more concentrated, immersive story.
Which brings me to one of the most unexpected results: We read more.
It’s not that we’re watching less television — if anything, we’re watching more, plowing through entire seasons — but our television time is more concentrated. Before, we used to watch this show on Mondays, and that show on Tuesdays, etc., etc., on through the weekly schedule. Now, there is no schedule other than the one we set.
We set aside a couple of evenings plus maybe Sunday afternoon to binge on a given show or selection of movies, and that super-concentrated dose sates our television needs for the week. The other evenings, we often opt to let the house quiet down and spend the time reading. Eventually, I hope to dedicate some writing time in there, too.
It’s definitely a “win” for us, though. Costs are down, free time is better used, and the quality of our entertainment is much higher.