Date of Degree

2-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Giancarlo Lombardi

Subject Categories

Other Film and Media Studies | Television

Keywords

binge watching, second screen, television, streaming, Netflix, TV

Abstract

In recent years the ways in which we watch television has changed, and so has the television we watch. “Binge watching,” almost the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2013, has taken a firm hold on the American television audience who now watches television not according to the broadcast schedule but on its own terms. So, too, has the practice of engaging with other audience members, be they friends, family, or strangers, while watching a show by using a secondary device – a “second screen.” These practices have been developing for some time, and as technology adapts to facilitate them the denizens of television viewers now consider them normal. The questions that follow are whether these new ways to watch television change the TV programs themselves, and whether the viewers’ emotional response to the shows is changing, too. If it is accepted as standard that audiences will watch multiple episodes of one show in a row, instead of waiting for a weekly release of a single episode, are the episodes being written with that consumption pattern in mind? Do the old conventions written into television shows to help the viewer remember what happened in the weeks before still apply? And, if viewers are looking at their second screens to follow the national response on Twitter v at the same time as they are watching a show, can they be as emotionally engaged with the show as they would be if they were focusing on the single, primary screen? There have been some studies that investigate these questions and others like them, and there is a plethora of written work ranging from scholarly papers to blog posts. The opinion columns of magazines and newspapers are full of think pieces on the effects of binge watching and the state of television today. My thesis incorporates existing research and writing with a historical overview of changes to television technology over time, as well as the results of an original survey distributed to my social network with the goal of reaching an understanding of how people are watching television and using the technology in their own lives.

 
 

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