The Brain Is Not Setup for the Netflix Model

I love Netflix. For my $9 a month I get access to great content, without ads, whenever I want it. I’m happy to admit that watching TV isn’t the greatest thing to do with my time, but frankly screw you – I enjoy it. A bit of mindless entertainment after a day of thinking about Angular Controllers and SQL calls is a nice break for me.

But I’m not convinced Netflix’s model for new TV shows is right.

Netflix is now producing some truly fantastic new content, only available to subscribers (modulo piracy):

  • Orange is the New Black
  • House of Cards
  • Narcos
  • Daredevil
  • and many more

They release it under the same model they release all their TV content: All episodes available at once.

I’ve discussed with coworkers and friends the first problem with this: It prevents the watercooler discussions. It’s impossible to know what episode someone is on without asking them, and so assuming you’re a polite person you don’t want to introduce spoilers into the discussion, so you just don’t talk about it until everyone is done the entire season. But regardless, that’s not what I want to discuss.

What I think is interesting, is if you ask a coworker what their favourite episode or favourite scene in Game of Thrones was, it is easy for them to answer (assuming they watched it). If you ask the same coworker what their favourite episode/scene was in Narcos (which was an amazing series, I highly recommend it), it’s a much more difficult question to answer.

I wonder if this is related to the fact that the brain creates long term memories in very strange ways, and because binge watching a TV show creates so many short term memories muddled into one, we can’t generally remember specific episodes or scenes very well – it becomes one big muddle.

I still hope that some day Netflix experiments with releasing a “Netflix Original” the old-school way. Just to see if people prefer it on some level.


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