Appointment television is NOT dead.

It’s been said that appointment television is dead. When content started streaming in bulk (e.g. Netflix, Amazon) media pundits started warning of the eventual demise of television. Well, television in the general sense, is no longer referenced as the electronic box that receives broadcasts via the air waves. Television is the old school network broadcast but it’s also the cable provider and online streaming service enabling us to watch on a multitude of devices. We watch a lot of television these days and there’s no sign of content consumption slowing down.

Appointment television is what it sounds like: television watched on a specific date and time “by appointment.” There’s a trend of consumers making appointments with television. They’re doing so for a myriad of reasons: to keep ahead of the media and social blitz to avoid seeing spoilers online; to satisfy their curiosity; to stay up to date on a show; to be relevant in everyday conversation; to maintain a sense of normality during the pandemic.

When the COVID19 lockdown started it was thought more consumers would walk away from episodic television but it was the exact opposite. More people started watching and scheduling their television. I’m an avid television appointment maker myself. As a confessed Star Wars fanatic I couldn’t wait for the next Mandalorian episode to post up on Disney+. I would devoutly start watching at 12:01am every Friday morning when it was released at midnight.

I might be the exception but I rather enjoy episodic television. There’s something about following a story episodically and allowing you to digest it, building up to the next episode. I’m not one that enjoys an entire season of episodes being published. I end up binge watching all the episodes and at the end of it feel less satisfied.

“Sometimes binge watching causes viewers to lose the flavor of the content. It becomes a task more so than entertainment. At some point most viewers just want to get through episodes”
– Sudhir (Sid) Veluvolu

Nobody knows what television will look like in the future, it constantly changes. Streaming services are adopting the appointment television format with shows like The Mandalorian, WandaVision, The Boys and The Great British Baking Show. The notion of releasing a full season of television at once has lost its novelty. There are pros and cons to both distribution models (entire season vs weekly release). Suffice it to say television won’t adopt just one or the other. One size doesn’t fit all. Viewers have their own agendas on how and when they want to consume television.

“Some consumers just want to be influencers. If a show starts trending in social media, it’s often because they’ve already watched the full season and want to recommend it to others, not because they want to experience the same moment with everyone else.”
– Rick Petrucilli