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The business logic behind the drama

  Binge-watching is a product of on-demand streaming sites and social media. Previously, viewers had to consume TV episodes as they aired, or buy boxed DVDs to watch many episodes at once, but that often meant waiting a significant amount of time. And now, networks are pushing entire seasons to platforms like Netflix at once.
  Network companies are developing niche programming for smaller audiences and distributing and redistributing them through new platforms, thereby crowding out the traditional TV market for growth. Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and HBO GO pioneered new forms of viewing and served as catalysts for innovative business deals.
  This changes the nature and structure of TV content. In television, narrative has always been a product of content delivery mechanisms. Why create suspense? Because you’ll be watching next week. Why is the show more than half an hour or an hour? Because live viewing requires a predictable schedule. Why does the plot have a multi-act structure? Because there needs to be room for ads.
  Breaking these constraints allows writers to develop deeper and more complex storylines than ever before. In the past, long and complicated storylines belonged to the realm of video games, and now we can often see this type of story in TV series. HBO shows like “Deadwood” ditch the network’s ad time and content constraints, like a Dickens novel. It could even be said that watching a streaming series is more like reading a book, breaking the “time tyranny” of TV and watching it entirely on your own schedule.
  But it’s also akin to a video game in that it’s immersive and completely controlled by the user. It creates a narcotic feeling of being sucked into the show and having it wash over you for hours. Watching is set to “play next episode” by default, and it’s so easy it can even turn into a match: every hour your friends post their progress on social media, every episode seems to become a Unlock levels.
  It all started because of Netflix’s innovative streaming of movies and TV shows over the Internet in 2007. Netflix began stocking seemingly every DVD that came out in its infinite shelf space, attracting the most ardent movie lovers. As it morphed into an internet company, the media companies that had licensed it to it found themselves competitors. The company has won loyalty by breaking the mold, and its overall viewership has continued to grow, while the number of U.S. pay-TV households has fallen 15% since 2015, and the loss is accelerating. By 2019, the streaming giant had around 167 million subscribers in 190 countries around the world.
  In 2013, Netflix launched all ten episodes of the political thriller “House of Cards” in one go, pioneering the concept of “binge watching”, or swiping dramas. Since then, animation, children’s shows, reality shows — all genres have been targeted by Netflix. The sudden emergence of a single company in the global entertainment industry is keeping many Hollywood people awake at night, not to mention theater owners, cable and satellite TV providers, and other traditional players.
  In the early days, before Netflix produced its own original content, the key thing was not what it offered, but how it offered it. Subscribers don’t have to wait months to watch studio-quality movies in their living room. They don’t have to sit down and watch commercials or wrestle for a week to have their screens light up with every episode of a new series. They can skip the show’s opener, or click a button to go to the next episode. Cable and satellite TV providers have never offered viewers these frictionless features, leaving pay TV many years behind streaming platforms.
  In addition, how viewers engage with, and interact with, TV shows have changed dramatically. In the first decades of television, television viewing was a scheduled activity that attracted a crowd in both private homes and public spaces. The show is the driving force of this kind of gathering, and watching TV is the main activity for those who sit in the living room or face the TV in the bar. TV shows, once a highly anticipated social event, have now become a ubiquitous environmental factor.
  With the development of these new mechanisms, a new relationship is established between television and its viewers. Traditional TV assumes that you are time-poor and that you basically spend hours watching TV before bed. Streaming services have a completely different assumption: they want to have your free time (travel, vacation, weekend) wherever you are. Therefore, streaming TV is not only a new way of watching, but also a new genre .