Not to detract from the gravity of these situations, but at a certain point the audience becomes fatigued with seeing the same footage over and over again from whatever the crisis of the week might be.
And the same holds through for the media covering these events. First, a local story gains steam and before long the national news crews come parachuting in. Without much new going on, the average national or international crew loses interest in a story fairly quickly, they reach crisis fatigue and pull up stakes and move on.
I think I’ve reached crisis fatigue with binge watching – at least binge watching some of the made for binging programs. Somewhere around episode five of the latest season of “Orange is the New Black,” I just stopped caring about the life and times of women behind bars (whatever happened to that whole fiancé plotline anyway?).
Now earlier this year I slogged my way through a weekend bender of “House of Cards,” but season three was nowhere what the first three had been. The plots didn’t twist like they once did. Francis Underwood stopped talking to the camera. And at some point you wished he’d just get it over with and push his wife under a train like he did his lover in season two.
Binge watching has become a way of life. What’s not to like? You get an entire season of 13 episodes wrapped up in a single bundle. What better way is there to spend a cold winter weekend than gorging yourself on five year’s worth of “Weeds” episodes?
The tricky part for advertisers and video producers is judging when crisis fatigue is going to set in. Many production companies are counting on binge watching as the new black. Like with most things in pop culture, the pendulum swings and then without notice turns 180 and swings back. Think about it, when was the last time you heard any mention of that guilty pleasure known as “Duck Dynasty?”
You have to wonder if maybe the producers of the made-for-binge-watching audience hit some sort of sophomore slump at the end of their second seasons. It’s got to be a producer’s dream to be able to think about viewers taking bite after bite of their commercially-non-interrupted product. Without having to allow for commercial breaks, the plots become more sophisticated, the characters more nuanced and an entire season now can take on a flow that was previously unobtainable.
But as often occurs with many creative endeavors, there is paralysis by analysis. Having too many options can lead to fragmentation. Having too much time to think about a project leads to overthinking and over-intellectualizing.
Hey, Americans are going to binge. It’s in our DNA – just look at our ever-widening bellies. Nothing beats sitting on the couch and indulging in our guilty pleasure programs one right after another. Sometime when the boys go off to college and snow starts to fly I’ll binge on the last few episodes of “Orange.”
The question for programmers is not just when will crisis fatigue set in for viewers and they move on to another show, of equal importance is when will crisis fatigue hit the writers, actors and producers of a series and they pull up stakes and move on as well. What do you think? Are you experiencing crisis fatigue as it relates to your binge watching, or is it still the new black? I’d love to hear.
Other resources on this topic:
Binge Baby, Binge: Entertainment Consumption in the Selfie Era [Survey]
Stop Trying to “Go Viral” – Viral Content Hinges on Community (Podcast)
Video Quality Problems? Say Bye-Bye to Millennial Binge-Viewers
A veteran of more than 30 years in the newspaper and online news business, Greg Peters is the communications coordinator for the University of Kansas School of Health Professions at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He also serves as blogger-in-residence for the national employment blogsite CareerFuel.Net. Greg earned his undergraduate degree from Fort Hays State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.