December 20, 2013
From the Mouth of a Millennial - On Binge Watching and Paying for Cable
By Colin Surguine
If the ubiquity of the phrase “cord nevers” is any indication, one of the most pressing issues for cable operators and programmers today is capturing the attention of this elusive group—those would-be subscribers who simply never sign up for the monthly service. Indeed, this week at the SVG Summit in NYC, Turner president David Levy stressed that the viewing habits of the generation now leaving college—the first to have had access to the Internet their entire lives—must be watched closely. No doubt, discerning what Millennials watch—and how and when—is a hot ticket. In light of this, we asked our own Millennial staffer Colin Surguine how he watches TV. The following is a look at binge viewing, over-the-top and deciding whether to get cable.
I am a millennial and I am a binge watcher. It’s become a problem–so much so that I find myself racing home from work on most days to get back to my nightly grind: a fix of some uninterrupted TV.
The problem all started with “Lost.” I wasn’t introduced to Netflix until my third year of college when my then roommate, who happened to be a film major, introduced me to what he might say is his favorite series of all time. I was skeptical at first; after all, I had never really followed TV programs up until that point. So he powered up his game console (a Millennial’s life-force), and put on Netflix.
But then the plane crashed. J.J. Abrams had stranded me on his topsy-turvy island full of mystery. There was no way off the island unless I went through all the episodes. Sleep and classes got in the way, but it took me close to a month to get through all six seasons.
Things have spiraled out of control ever since. I started watching “Weeds,” “Dexter,” “Breaking Bad”… Let’s just say there aren’t a lot of programs I haven’t seen. And by that I mean programs that I was either too young to watch or those where I had missed the premiere but felt too guilty jumping into them mid-series. How else would I have fully grasped the development of each character or the unexpected plot twists? My friends and I even had a watch party for the series finale of Breaking Bad after we had all caught up with all of Walter White’s exploits.
Then, Netflix shattered my whole reality on original programming with the release of “House of Cards” and soon after, “Orange is the New Black.” Between appreciating Francis Underwood’s southern charm and Piper Chapman’s faux innocence, I lacked the will power to contain my curiosity. And just like Weeds and Dexter and Breaking Bad, the two Netflix originals fed my addiction. But the fix was short lived, as I finished both seasons before plans for a second season had even been addressed.
So what happens when you run out of programs, as you so often do when you are a binge watcher? You start watching old programming. How a show like “Freaks and Geeks” with such a star-studded cast could cancel after only one season I will never understand. HBO Go was kind enough to provide every episode of “The Wire” and “The Sopranos,” two shows that I had been dying to start after hearing so much about them.
Netflix isn’t the only place where I go to feed my addiction. When I moved into my first apartment after college–a pivotal time in a Millennial’s life—I had to make the all-important decision of whether I was going to subscribe to cable. I chose to get on board. Unlike most of my peers, I have never had the luxury of using my parents’ login information for TV Everywhere, nor did I ever use an antenna to pick up broadcast channels. Until recent years, I couldn’t even tell the difference between cable and broadcast. But at the time the new season of “The Newsroom” was halfway done and a new season of “Boardwalk Empire” was following (not to mention, Football season was right around the corner). That was more than enough reason to justify the monthly cable bill.