Waiting to Start Watching a Show

Posted by Thoughts and Ramblings on Thursday, September 21, 2023

When Netflix started its streaming service, people got used to binge watching a show. The trend increased when streaming services started their original series and would drop and entire season of a show simultaneously. In the past few years, these services started spreading out the release of episodes in a season for some shows but that doesn’t mean people will watch the episodes on the same schedule. Instead, most people will wait for the entire season to be available so as to not get caught up in the story and be stuck waiting for the next episode.

This can extend past a single season of a show to multiple seasons. Why risk having to wait a year to see the resolution of season finale when you can start the show after a few seasons are out and watch the whole thing on your schedule? Additionally if you wait before watching a show, you can know from others who didn’t wait if the show is worth your time. Why invest several hours in a show when you know from others the payoff isn’t going to be worth it?

There is a downside to this though. If a significant segment of a show’s potential audience were to wait before starting to watch the show, then that segment doesn’t get counted as part of the show’s audience. Thus lowering the show’s ratings and increasing the chances that the show gets cancelled earlier. In cases where a show is cancelled, those who waited are left to ask their friends questions similar to this which came from a co-worker:

Since it got cancelled after the first season, anyone have opinions on whether The Peripheral is worth watching? Is the season 1 ending satisfying?

The question is, if everyone who was interested in The Peripheral had watched it when the first season was airing, would it have another season? We’d likely never know but there are likely a few shows for which this would be the case.

So, what is the balance? When do you start watching a show that’s of interest? Earlier lowers the risk of it being cancelled but later allows for watching more episodes on your own schedule?