I have Atlanta’s trends on Twitter. Here’s what the trends were last night.
Every single one listed was about Game of Thrones. This morning, until shortly after the announcement of a royal birth in the United Kingdom, the trends were mostly the same. The US trend is nearly identical.
People were talking about Game of Thrones and not just the misplaced Starbucks cup.
This happens because the show is live and once a week. People tune in for “must see TV.” Netflix is not equivalent nor are the other streaming shows. Sure there is buzz about shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime, but the buzz is about shows, not individual episodes that play out over time.
When Netflix drops Stranger Things or Amazon Prime Hulu drops their handmaids crap or Amazon Prime drops their Marvolous not very funny comedienne, people talk about the shows, but they cannot really talk about the individual episodes because people watch at their own pace. Some binge watch and some don’t. The conversations become uneven so the conversations must become more general.
With Game of Thrones on HBO, Billions on Showtime, and other shows that come out once a week, people can go on social media and talk together during the same episodes they are all watching together. They can talk about it overnight after the episodes are airred. They can go into the office the next morning and talk about the show and the spoilers reasonably confident that anyone who can see it has seen it.
It is the equivalent of sports conversations. You can go into the office and talk about the Super Bowl on Monday without spoiling the outcome because people have shared the experience together.
Streaming services may have a ton of content and you may be able to binge watch it or slow watch it at your own pace, but you cannot share in a common experience that traditional entertainment has long given us. To give extra points to HBO, Showtime, etc. when those weekly shows do capture the imagination of pop culture, one can go on their streaming services, binge watch all the past episodes to catch up to now, and then join the conversation without missing a beat.
Long term, I think that continues to give an advantage to more traditional outlets like HBO and Showtime and it is something Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime need to consider. If they really want to be as culturally relevant as the red wedding, they need to stop dropping full series at one time.
After all, everyone knows the costumes from the handmaid’s crap, but do you know what happened in a particular episode? Everyone knows Stranger Things captures the nostalgia of the eighties, but what about a particular must see episode?
With, for example, Game of Thrones, the conversation can turn and does turn to individual episodes because we’re all in this together in way we are not with streaming platforms.