Have you ever found yourself caught in the crossfire of these divided series, craving the satisfaction of a seamless binge? It’s like enjoying a thrilling novel, only to have the narrative rug pulled out from under you, leaving your brain in a state of narrative amnesia upon your return. The struggle is real, and it seems these OTT platforms are tinkering with the very essence of viewer connection.
The core idea of OTT is to lend freedom to viewers to watch at will, be it time, genre or flow, unlike the restrictions in TV or celluloid. The gratification of personalised viewing experience, be it in quick sprints or lengthy marathons, is unparalleled in the new age world of web entertainment.
However, contrary to the popular affinity, there has been a rise among Indian OTT platforms to opt for binge break, chopping seasons in between, in hope for raising more excitement or get return audience subscribers or in some cases, brand engagement possibilities (we delve more on it later)
At a recent press conference of a show, an actor on grounds of anonymity, who is a part of such a project which has opted for binge break, said to IWMBuzz that he/she is confused with the ploy as he/she feels binge break leads to audience disconnect.
“In the west, a lot of episodes in a single season get released and we all love to binge watch. Here too, I would want my shows to be watched at one go, why give a break when one likes it,” said the above actor.
So, how do you feel about the deliberate interruption of your binge-watching flow? Are you, like many others, a staunch advocate for the unbroken narrative journey?
It’s almost as if the consistency we crave in our daily lives is being challenged by these segmented seasons. What’s your take on this departure from the binge-watching tradition?
Picture this: you’re engrossed in a series, the plot thickens, and just as you’re on the edge of your seat, bam! A hiatus. It’s a narrative cliffhanger of a different kind, disrupting not just the story arc but also your emotional investment.
Do you think these intentional breaks enhance or hinder the overall viewing experience?
This deviation from the binge-worthy tradition raises eyebrows. Viewers, accustomed to consuming content in one satisfying gulp, find themselves grappling with the unintended consequence of these segmented seasons. It’s akin to the frustration of leaving a novel mid-chapter, only to return later and find the narrative slipping through the fingers of memory like sand. The brain’s farewell to the intricacies of the plot demands a fresh start, transforming what should be a continuum into an unwelcome déjà vu.
This strategy, employed by OTT platforms to elongate viewer engagement, might serve their time-oriented agenda but risks alienating the ardent fans. In a world where consistency is celebrated, these interruptions seem out of sync with the very essence of storytelling. It’s as if the constant neural resources required to stay immersed in a narrative are being disrupted deliberately, challenging the viewer’s ability to stay engaged.
It’s just that the joy of galloping through a series uninterrupted is now challenged by these deliberate breaks, creating a jarring viewing experience.
In pursuing elongated streaming metrics, the platforms risk overlooking the fundamental need for a fluid, uninterrupted narrative. While the tactic may boost their bottom line, the casualties could be the dedicated buffs yearning for a consistent, immersive journey through the realms of storytelling. In an era where content is king, the challenge lies not just in producing compelling narratives but in respecting the viewer’s desire for an uninterrupted, unbroken flow of storytelling magic.
For instance, given the seismic shakeup with the release of “The Night Manager” in February, but the “shake” was not for the reasons the netizens had hoped. Instead of a seamless binge, the platform decided on a mid-season break – a staggering four months hiatus for eight episodes, much to the chagrin of an average audience. The pattern followed with The Freelancer, Scam Season 2, and also Aarya’s latest season, among others.
Zooming into the domain of Hindi entertainment, the 2022 release of “Tanaav,” the Hindi adaptation of “Fauda,” opted for a different strategy – twelve episodes, but delivered in three separate batches. It departs from the traditional binge model, inviting viewers to savor the suspense over multiple installments. What’s your take on this approach? Does it heighten the anticipation or leave you yearning for the good old binge-and-repeat routine?
Now, let’s go global. We’ve seen this trend with some heavy hitters – “Ozark,” “Better Call Saul” chose to unveil their final seasons in segments. Even fan-favourite “Stranger Things” played the split-season card for its penultimate instalment.
It’s a strategy that’s not entirely new, with echoes from the days before when series like “The Sopranos” and others utilized it for their concluding acts.
Why do you ask?
By splitting a season into segments, OTT platforms strategically release content throughout the year. This not only helps in avoiding content droughts but also allows the platform to sustain viewership over an extended timeframe. It contributes to a consistent flow of viewership metrics, which can be crucial for advertising revenue and partnerships.
A rise in marketing opportunities!
It allows them to promote the show multiple times – before the season, during the mid-season break, and again when the next segment releases. This staggered approach enables platforms to capitalize on various promotional strategies, including teasers, trailers, and exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
Also, the decision to implement mid-season breaks could be a response to changing consumption patterns. Some viewers may prefer a serialized release model, enjoying the anticipation and communal experience of discussing episodes over an extended period. This adaptability aligns with the platforms’ commitment to providing content in a way that resonates with their diverse audience base.
So, there you have it – the curious dance of mid-season breaks, the thrill of fragmented narratives, and the ever-elusive joy of interrupted binge-watching. In this brave new world of storytelling, where consistency takes a backseat and déjà vu becomes a binge-watcher’s closest companion, we navigate the twists and turns of web series culture. Yet, amidst the chaos, the question lingers: Is this the evolution of storytelling we signed up for, or just a clever ploy to keep us perennially dangling on the precipice of narrative uncertainty? As we await the next plot twist – be it in the storyline or the release strategy – one thing remains certain: the show must go on, interruptions and all.
“The Indian OTT ecosystem is evolving, adapting and changing dramatically and at a rapid pace. Experimentation is key and data will eventually dictate what works and what not. Let’s see how things pan out, however, OTT will always be about binge watching: and content and audience interest will always have the final say in this medium,” added a highly placed professional in one of India’s leading OTT networks.
(With Inputs From Siddhartha Laik)