How Long Is Too Long To Wait For TV?

Back in my day we had a few terrestrial channels and if you were rich, you had sky with MTV! We weren’t. If you fell in love with a series as a kid you’d have to wait a week for each episode but we didn’t seem to mind because we had no other experience of watching television. I remember hitting my teens and having a “Friends” evening when the last season aired where a select few of us would meet to watch the next episode, every week, commercials and all. We cried when it ended. Not just because it was the last ever season, but because we would no longer meet to watch it. It was an event, an experience, something to talk about with each other between episodes during the week. A few years later and “Lost” hit our screens and my husband and I were hooked. We watched one episode a week through a few seasons before we realised that the standard had lowered and gave up part way through a season. It took real courage to abandon a series at that late stage; a series we’d committed years to. Nowadays we drop seasons frequently. We can be one episode in or three seasons but if the quality of the content waivers then we drop it and move on.

The ocean of content available at our fingertips via a host of platforms, for relatively little financial cost, means writers must work a lot harder to not only gain our interest but to retain it. When we find a series that we fall in love with we will happily wait for the next season, counting down the calendar days until it arrives. I believe it’s not all about the quality of the content. Obviously, that’s important, but it’s about that season becoming a part of our lives, an event, a topic for socialising with friends, sharing on social media, feeling part of a group, a sense of belonging. Not too dissimilar to back in the 90’s waiting for that next episode, right? It’s just the whole season we are waiting for now. So, we’ve changed the way we watch TV to binge watching whole seasons but, we are still happy to wait for the next instalment if the content is good and we’re able to turn it into a ‘social event’ or discussion. When that next season is available, woe betide its writers and producers if it’s not up to scratch. We will drop it like a hot cake, slate it online and move on to something else in a flash.

My daughter recently binge-watched the new “Greenhouse Academy” in one week. She’s ten and autistic and came to me after the final cliff-hanger of an episode and was jumping up and down asking me to find out when season two would be available on Netflix. The thing that struck me about this was that she automatically assumed there would be a season two and even more so, how accepting she was that there would probably be a wait. A quick Google search later and I was no better off thanks to some other Netflix related ‘news’ site that insinuated they have inside information on a release date in their title, that turned out to be nothing but speculation. I panicked as I considered quickly how to handle this. In an autistic mind, it can be difficult to process why something is not available immediately, especially if there is no expected date in the future but I was surprised as she fully accepted that she could be waiting a year plus for it. I mean she was disappointed but not upset and went back to Netflix to find something else.

I asked my daughter how long is too long to wait for a season update and she said; “I’m happy to wait as long as it takes but, I don’t like it when someone tells me they know and then that’s not true.” For the record, neither do I. So, whilst we used to accept that we would have to wait a week for an episode back in the 90’s because we didn’t have any other experience of watching TV, our children now accept that they will have to wait ‘as long, as it takes’ for the new season because they haven’t experienced it any other way either. They just don’t like being lied to or having information withheld. Who does?!

In conclusion, how long is ‘too long’ to wait? It seems, there is no ‘too long’, providing we’re kept reliably informed (thank you New On Netflix) and the content is of a high standard. No pressure, Netflix!

Do you agree? Are you willing to wait for the next season of your favourite show? If not, why not? Leave us a comment below…

About Laura

Copywriter at LW Freelance Writing. I'm also a mother and wife, owner of two dogs and practising Christian. Passionate about TV, film & cinema, spoken word, poetry, politics, autism and feminism.

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5 thoughts on “How Long Is Too Long To Wait For TV?

  1. I don’t mind waiting a week for episodes, or waiting however long for a new series (-ish. Waiting for something with an expectation that it is coming, only for it to be delayed / cancelled is annoying).

    There are a couple of things that have led me to binge watching though, and I have other issues with modern TV.

    1) Season – and season-spanning – stories. This seems to be the default for TV now, and it really gets my goat. Yes, there are times when you need to tell a story over a few hours. But with everything following this formula, if you miss an episode (holiday, power cut, etc.) then you either have to forgo that episode, or forgo the remainder of the series until you can watch the missing episode. And if you find yourself in that position – maybe it’s better if you don’t start at all.

    When series are a collection of standalone episodes, it doesn’t matter if you skip one and possibly see it later.

    2) Too much TV – I remember when Channel 4 launched. Let alone 5, cable, satellite, etc. Now there is so much available, you really need to choose what to put time into – especially when you are investing in these really long stories.

    3) Lengthy ad breaks – you used to have 5 – 10 minutes of adverts in an hour long programme. Now it’s over 15 minutes. That’s important when you come to…

    4) PVR and streaming – when you take all of the above, it comes to a point where it is easier to record everything (you’re interested in), and watch it later. Or on a streaming service. And if you are doing that, does it make sense to watch as you go, or hold onto it until you’ve:

    a) recorded all the episodes, so you know that you aren’t going to hit a break through recording failure.

    b) when you know you’ve got time to get through them all in reasonable order (because whilst I don’t mind waiting for a new episode, I don’t want to start a story and then get distracted and not return to it until after I’ve forgotten what’s going on).

    Social media is a driver for watching things as they are broadcast – but that only works for “event” TV. I don’t want to have a twitter conversation in the middle of a drama any more than I want to talk to the person next to me at the cinema.

  2. I don’t mind waiting for a new series/season, but because my viewing habits have changed, if I have to wait for a new episode, I often forget or miss out (if you don’t watch a BBC new episode within 28 days it’s gone). Also, I like to go back and rewatch at least the last episode of a previous series before the new one-which you can with Netflix, but again on the BBC it’s not likely, so if I missed any episode at any point, the whole series is gone until Netflix buys it 🙂

  3. for example. I will NOT view Luke Cage season 2, Daredevil season3 or the new season of Jessica Jones because they took too long and I’ve tuned out. I did the same thing to lazy ass George RR Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. If they can’t provide sequels in a reasonable time frame (book 1is like 30years old) I refuse to support the content.

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