Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Hannibal. Critics and everyday viewers alike say that we are living in a golden age of television. Shows that have depth and actually evolve slowly. It’s a throwback almost to a time gone by, and folks are loving it. However, the way we watch these amazing shows is changing, at a ridiculous pace. Netflix, the former DVD mail service is now a titan and posterchild of the new way we "television." We watch shows when we want to. No more appointment TV, Must-see TV, or anything like that. There have been some folks, in articles in the Atlantic, and Entertainment Weekly among several others, that have been warning that these days are numbered. That our habits will eventually force TV to drastically change to our new, random habits. The staples and trappings of TV culture may be gone forever. Will watercooler talk exist when everyone is watching TV at their own pace? No more phenomena like the MASH finale, where millions all watched at the same time. There’s another group that says this is all silly. That these habits won’t go anywhere. The medium can be different; the habits can stay the same. Can they? WIll they? Sounds like a debate!
Human Nature and culture still dictates that where there's a really good show, there's a growing fandom. And where there's a fandom, there's a need to be a part of the pack, to follow the course of others, and to catch the latest episode at the same time as, or before, everyone else. Depending on the size of each fandom, the numbers of people all watching something around the same time will vary, but a portion or percentage of said phenomenon that you describe will still linger. Once television channels themselves shut down and there's no longer a premiere launch date on a set schedule, a lot of what makes television "television" will go away. And yet, episodes or whole seasons will get released around the world at the same time, whatever that time may be: and large groups of people will still clamor to watch the premiere when it gets released, just as they always have. So... some aspects will go away, but others will only change into something different but similar. – Jonathan Leiter7 years ago
Along with the above comment, I would have to say that based on release times and hype around certain projects, I don't believe that the phenomena of millions watching the same thing at the same time will fade as quickly. There will just be a bit of gap where others can catch up, resulting in even bigger number of viewers than if it was a time sensitive program. I have heard of so many television programs failing because they were put into the wrong time slot, forcing them to lose viewers and eventually getting shut down when they otherwise would have flourished. It's obvious that with our modern culture we have a newfound respect for "geek" love, or rather a passion for the imaginary. Paired with an ever-advancing technology and this passion, we know more about the world and the stories the make up that world, than ever before. I don't think that this will be the end of anything, but rather just the breaking away of binding restrictions that should have dissolved away years ago. – woolsterp7 years ago
If anything, the "golden age of television' will transcend and adapt to the advancements of our digital devices. As our devices become more portable, we require platforms that are flexible and allow for user personalized content. Netflix is a great example of this. Future changes within TV distribution and culture will revolve primarily around that kind of user control. People would prefer not to sit through numerous commercials or adhere to the set schedule of airing times. Netflix in particular is changing the behavior of how we consume TV. As entire seasons are released within one day, binge watching has become less taboo. We know many of our friends are rapidly following up on multiple seasons within a weekend's time and to a certain degree expect it. Perhaps this is the new watercooler talk. Rather than reflect on a single episode, entire seasons are explored and suggested. With such variety at our fingertips, the content we watch will become diversified and hopefully lead to a more dignified landscape of TV. – yshim7 years ago