The end of days for binge watching as Netflix and Prime start to lose their appeal

Are we slowly falling out of love with binge watching? Going by the growing number of unfinished series which litter our Netflix and Prime accounts, I reckon things are changing.
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Both platforms were a welcome distraction during lockdown. Today, the gems are harder to find, and only a few have completely held our interest.

I grew up when there were only three channels, and they all switched off before midnight - telly really did finish with the national anthem after a weary Church of Scotland meenisters tried to introduce God into the most banal of daily observations which probably put a generation of Scots off religion for life..

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There was no breakfast telly unless you counted Open University programmes hosted by bearded men in beige pullovers they wore under their suit jackets, and stations simply shut down in the afternoon until we got home forms school for How! Wacky Races, Crackerjack, and Blue Peter or Magpie (you were either a BP of ‘Pie person).

Netflix’s Squid Game photo booth during the BAFTA Garden Party in 2022  (Pic: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for BAFTA)Netflix’s Squid Game photo booth during the BAFTA Garden Party in 2022  (Pic: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for BAFTA)
Netflix’s Squid Game photo booth during the BAFTA Garden Party in 2022 (Pic: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for BAFTA)

I can remember the excitement when Channel4 launched, and less so the arrival of Channel5 which still feels like a station in search of an identity and an audience, and then came the cable revolution with the promise of wall to wall channels just like they had in America. Only then did we realise that less is more.

I’ve never bought into the defund the BBC nonsense which is spouted by people who usually have a hidden agenda. We get so much from our licence fee - ‘way more than we realise - but moan about it while happily forking out more and more for Netflix, Sky’s never ending sports and movie packages, and everything digital.

My biggest gripe with subscription platforms is how they change the rules. We were five series into Blacklist and utterly hooked, only to be left dangling when the next batch of shows went from free to paid for.

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Manifest looked great but we can only get two of the series before it jumped to series seven which kinda defeated the point of investing time in something that looked good, so it is in the ‘to be continued when we can be bothered’ file along with Stranger Things (got bored after four episodes), Homeland (seven series in, the eighth yet to be done), Suits, Mad Men, and many more.

We stuck with The Crown and regretted every moment wasted on a dreadful sixth series- c’mon, it was risible rubbish - but have struck gold with Bodies which is brilliant, inventive story telling. Possibly my favourite show since Squid Game.

But, we’re not watching it the way we would have in lockdown when a whole series could be devoured in one sitting. The time we had then has been consumed by other stuff. Television, whether it’s the BBC or Netflix, has gone back into the corner of the room.

We’re finding fewer gems on Prime these days, and even Netflix is starting to feel a bit old hat - it’s hard to see it matching the BBC for longevity which is perhaps symptomatic of the attention span that seems to be ingrained in the digital era where we consume entertainment and news like junk food. Two bites and it’s gone, and we’re not really satisfied. Maybe we never were...