Daredevil vs. Game of Thrones: The Battle Between Binge-Watching And Appointment Viewing

This weekend provided an interesting contrast in television consumption.

In one corner, Daredevil, the hotly anticipated first of four straight-to-Netflix, “Here’s all 13 episodes” series from Marvel, expressly made for people that wanted to spend the entire weekend – or 13 consecutive hours if you were so inclined – plastered to the couch immersed in all things Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk and Hell’s Kitchen.

In the other corner, Game of Thrones, returning for its fifth season with Sunday’s premiere. After enduring half a year without a new glimpse at life in Westeros and spending the past two months counting down to Sunday’s return, the HBO original will control fans’ lives for one hour, every Sunday night for the next 10-12 weeks, depending on if there are any “off weeks” in the broadcast schedule. It’s old school appointment viewing at its finest.

From a consumer standpoint, the ability to sit down and take in Daredevil however you see fit is great. You’re in charge of how quickly you get through the season because every episode is there for you to watch at your convenience, so whether that means a marathon session, breaking it up into four chapters spaced out over a couple days or slowly taking in an episode a night for 13 nights, how you enjoy the series is totally in your hands.

That’s the beauty of Netflix, both in terms of its original series’ and watching old favourites on the streaming platform – you can crush a season or a series in no time flat or you can drag it out and savour the experience. Want to watch all six seasons of Gossip Girl in six weeks? Go nuts. Looking to invest in House for one or two episodes a night as a way to unwind, slowly working your way through eight seasons of differential diagnoses and pill-popping Hugh Laurie excellence? Enjoy.

It also caters to the “I can’t wait” mentalitiy and mindset of the Internet generation, where being patient and finding things out organically are archaic concepts the way landlines and non-Blu Ray DVDs are relics of a bygone era.

But if you’re one of the people trying to savour Daredevil over the next several days or weeks, there is a serious risk of spoilers because let’s be honest: tons of people binge-watched that bad boy over the weekend and they’re going to be talking about it a lot over the next couple days.

You’ll have to be diligent if you want to keep what’s happening in Hell’s Kitchen surprising as you move episode-by-episode through the season, but it is doable, as a certain Among Men writer proved last year by missing True Detective when it originally aired, only to consume it all in a glorious three-day stretch a couple months later without a single element of the show being spoiled.

What about from a strategic marketing and word-of-mouth standpoint though? Is being the show that everyone watches in the first two or three weeks and then stops talking about for the next 11 months really the best way to go?

Think about it: Daredevil is hot right now because it dropped at the stroke of midnight on Friday and people have been feasting on it. Six weeks from now, most of the people that have been waiting for its arrival will be through it and probably moved on. Are people still going to be talking about that amazing sequence from Episode 7 in June? Probably not.

With a weekly program like Game of Thrones, however, every episode because a talking point and you’re forced to take your time and digest the previous hour in The Realm because you have no other choice, unless you’re into watching leaked episodes on the web. While it doesn’t fit the “gimme gimme gimme” framework, it does mean that Game of Thrones will be a topic of discussion into the summer, long after Daredevil has likely faded back into the shadowy darkness that makes the show so much grittier than everything else Marvel has ever done.

You have all week to talk about what transpired the previous Sunday and forecast where the season is going. You have to ruminate on what will happen next with Tyrion because you won’t know until Sunday night at 8pm. It creates sustained anticipation – week upon week of getting excited to see what the next episode brings – that allows Game of Thrones to exist in the headlines and as a topic of conversation for a longer period of time than the latest Netflix arrival.

So which is better?

It’s a question of personal preference and how well you deal with having to wait to get the things that you want.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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