Are TV Watchers Distracted Viewers?

The way we watch TV has changed drastically, and will probably continue to change as we see more and more convergence between media devices. For example, I do not have cable, and instead I use a web-ready TV to stream TV shows and movies directly from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant. While I watch I always find myself either on my phone or my tablet, usually browsing reddit or playing bubble shooter games. I also often watch shows directly on my computer, but I use my second monitor to – you guessed it – browse reddit or play bubble shooter games.

When I realized that I have this compulsion to do two things at once, I was actually very surprised. Why can’t I give even my favorite TV shows my undivided attention? Am I multitasking, or do I just have a short attention span? What kinds of subtleties am I missing when I look away from the screen, even for a moment?

130201-supernaturalAccording to this study I’m not the only one with this problem – or is it even a problem? I don’t know. I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to not let myself get distracted while I continue to watch Supernatural with my husband over the next couple of days (almost done with season 4!) and see if I really notice that big of a difference. I’ll report back to you with my findings.

This article talks about the “multitasking” that many TV viewers are engaging in and comes to the conclusion that smart TV’s are the next big thing–I’m sorry, but isn’t that already a thing? Sure not everyone has a web-ready TV, but I don’t feel like it’s this huge advancement in the way we conceive of television. We’ve been using convergent devices to watch TV and movies for a while already. To me, the most interesting thing about the findings of the study in the article is that it has implications for network programmers, directors, and even TV writers, who have to adapt to the fact that viewers may not always keep their eyes on the screen.

How do you normally watch TV? On your computer or another device? Do you have cable or stream media using services like Netflix and Hulu? Do you ever find yourself distracted by other screens while watching TV? Do you think it hinders your enjoyment of what you watch?

Study: Majority of consumers watch TV and surf Web simultaneously
Dawn C. Chmielewski @ LA Times

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A new study from KPMG suggests that the majority of Americans now watch TV and access the Web simultaneously. However, consumers say they still prefer to watch video on the TV — suggesting the next big disruptive technology in the living room may be the Internet-connected “smart TV,” like these on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show.

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Reviving ‘Arrested Development’

If you’ve seen Arrested Development, you know how undeniably amazing it is, and you may also know the frustration that many experienced when it was cancelled. It’s an old story: viewer meets show, show is amazing, show gets cancelled by (usually Fox) network because of small viewership without giving it time to grow, DVD sales and Netflix views bring show to larger audience, audience wants more! The quintessential example of this story comes in the form of Firefly, which did get revisited in the form of the film adaptation Serenity because of major fan activism and DVD sales.

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Yet Arrested Development is experiencing a revival the likes of which Firefly fans have only dreamed of: a whole 14 new episodes are being produced, all of which will be added to Netflix simultaneously. I can guarantee that I’ll be among the many viewers who binge watch the entire season in one day. The release is slated for May, with speculations of May 4th being the official date.

The complications involved in getting the actors back together while many of them have moved on to successful television (Will Arnett) and film (Jason Bateman, Michael Cera) careers and the fact that all of the episodes will be released at once has led to what looks to be a very interesting format to this so-called fourth “season” of the show, which will in fact look very little like a normal season. Check out this article about the uniqueness of this project, with comments from its star Jason Bateman and creator Mitch Hurwitz.

New ‘Arrested Development’: What to Expect
Ellen Gray @ PopMatters

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The creator and cast of “Arrested Development” were reunited Wednesday at the Television Critics Association’s winter meetings in Pasadena with the people who’d (mostly) loved them before it was cool.

Or at least before millions more people discovered the show on DVD and decided that TV critics had, after all, been right about the series, which ran for three little-watched seasons on Fox between 2003 and 2006.

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All ‘Breaking Bad’ Things Must Come to a (Hopefully Good) End

I love Breaking Bad. When I started watching it on Netflix I blew through all of the episodes in probably a week or two. Its intense and compelling story of meth cooking and drug dealing is itself a drug, and I’m an addict.

This is why I was so bummed when it didn’t win any Golden Globes this past weekend. Bryan Cranston, especially, I thought deserved to win best actor in a television drama series. Granted, I haven’t really watched Homeland (don’t kill me) or any of the other shows with actors up in this category except for Mad Men (and mm, Jon Hamm – I would have been okay with his beautiful mug winning too), but I still find it hard to imagine that anyone could have done anything better than Cranston’s gritty, complex, and oddly endearing performance.

With only half a season left, Breaking Bad is soon sadly coming to an end, but I think it is a testament to Vince Gilligan’s expertise at what he does that this series does have an end in mind. Rather than just trying to take the show as long as he possibly can, stringing us all along, it’s actually going somewhere. This is an important thing to keep in mind for anyone who is devising, writing, running, directing, or producing a television series. In the end, you don’t want to leave things hanging or bore your viewers with an aimless overarching narrative. Despite the serial nature of the medium, you still have to have a complete story and a conclusion in mind.

In this article Vince Gilligan discusses the difficulties of concluding the series. It’s definitely an interesting read. Let me know what you think of his comments and his process. How do you think it should end?

Ten Things on Vince Gilligan’s Mind As He Writes the Final Episodes of Breaking Bad
Denise Martin @ Vulture

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We’re not gonna please everyone, we’re not gonna please everyone … This is what I keep telling myself so I can sleep at night,” Vince Gilligan laughed last month, even though he wasn’t exactly joking. When he spoke to Vulture, he was putting the finishing touches on the story for the third to last episode, getting very close to tackling the series finale (the show’s last stretch of eight episodes airs on AMC later this year).

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