Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Talking Point: is broadcasting multiple episodes a week a wise move?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Injustice, ITV1

It's becoming common for UK broadcasters to air TWO episodes of a drama every week, sometimes more. Outcasts spent the first few weeks of its life airing episodes on Mondays and Tuesdays; the currently-airing Case Histories launched with an episode on Sunday and Monday; and it's always been common for ITV two/three-part dramas to air their entire run in a week, etc.

In some cases this is done because the broadcaster know they have a turkey on their hands and want to get it over with as quickly as possible, but there's often a genuine belief it's a brilliant idea because modern audiences weaned on DVD box-sets love a fast turnaround. One episode per week? How archaic!

But is that actually true? I'm of the opinion that occasionally "stripping" a TV show over multiple days (a la Torchwood: Children Of Earth, Criminal Justice or last week's Injustice) can be an interesting scheduling treat. But the more it's done, the more irritating it becomes. Sometimes I just don't have time to watch multiple episodes of the same show in a week, or even the inclination to do so. I actually like having six days to discuss a show, and let it swim around in my head for awhile. It's just about acceptable for a new show to start with a double-bill (Camelot) or two episodes in a week (Teen Wolf), just to get the ball rolling, but otherwise I prefer the traditional "one episode per week" approach.

The fact the UK don't have very long runs of TV drama/comedy also makes it seem crazy how they willfully burn through a whole 6-8 week series in half that time. Where's the sense in that?! Are British audiences really so desperate for content in double doses?

What do you think? Have broadcasters got it all wrong about our appetite for TV these days? Do you hate it when you notice a show is demanding TWO hours of your time every week, instead of the usual one? Does this practice mean you tend to watch one episode and record the other to watch a week later, effectively ensuring you're seven days behind everyone else? Or is that unacceptable because of spoiler concerns with some of the more popular shows? Do you find that the hassle of multiple episodes means you avoid something altogether, or save it on your DVR knowing you'll probably delete it because it feels like you're dragging behind from the get-go?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this puzzling trend. Does it happen where you live, if you're not a resident of the UK?

Over to you!