Binge-worthy shows eat away at box office sales

Subscriptions to premi- um networks like HBO and Starz have increased dramati- cally. This is because people want a high-quality entertain- ment experience––which is pretty understandable. What is incomprehensible is that the average American has also lost the desire to get off the couch to get it. HBO, or Home Box Of- fice, is the epitome of “bet- ter-than-the-movies” televi- sion––its very slogan is “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” The net- work’s hit series “Game of Thrones” costs between $6- 10 million an episode to pro- duce. It pays off, however; the fourth season’s finale gar- nered 7.1 million views on its first night alone.

It’s not all about the flashy effects, either. The writing on “Game of Thrones” is abso- lutely top-notch, shining even in scenes that haven’t been taken from the books. In ad- dition to the writing, the act- ing is phenomenal. If you still haven’t seen Peter Dinklage’s heart-wrenching performance as Tyrion Lannister at his trial, then the answer is yes––it really is that good.

Premium television pro- graming is now consistently beating box office offerings at every turn. Thanks to shows like “Game of Thrones,” many have deemed going to the movies as being more in- convenient, too expensive or just not worth the effort.

If HBO and compa- rable networks are making people idle, Netflix is making them immobile. Binge-watch- ing shows allow viewers to be both physically and mentally lazy. While we watch five episodes at a time, comfort- able in our sweats with bag of chips in hand, we also allow our minds to stay comfortable with the same old settings and characters.

In this way, shows by the season is even lazier than streaming whole movies in bed. And with il- legal streaming sites going strong and Netflix original shows like “House of Cards” being released whole seasons at a time, it seems as if movie theaters don’t stand a chance. That’s a shame.

It’s not that I have a problem with television––it’s actually one of my favorite things. I have no complaints about the recent trends in better writing and even bet- ter special effects. I watched all five seasons of “Breaking Bad” in about a month, just like everybody else.

Still, people are not us- ing their time to expose them- selves to new characters, sto- ries and cultures in favor of returning to the same worlds they already know is a little disappointing. And the total experience of going to the movies—the darkness, the big screen and the environment that varies considerably from your living room—cannot be replicated.

It would be pretty unfor- tunate if maybe two genera- tions from now, kids didn’t even understand the concept of a movie theater. Sadly, binge-watching could defi- nitely make that a reality.