I am, as I’ve written about before, a passionate advocate of physical media. One of the reasons for that is that physical media stays. Unless someone breaks in and steals my collection, which let’s face it is unlikely, I’m going to be able to watch Joan of Arcadia or Blackadder as many times as I’d like. While it’s always nice to randomly discover that things are available streaming, the fact is that it all goes away. I’m trying to get the entire third season of Kingdom in today around my son’s distance learning, because after today, it won’t be on Hulu anymore.
They say it “expires.” Which is certainly one way of phrasing it. But no matter what you call it, what it means in practical terms is that I have until today to finish watching it or I won’t know how the series ends. There are a few shows where the notice came to my attention late enough that I wasn’t able to finish the show. And of course I then forget everything that happened before, half the time, or at least enough detail so that, if the show does crop up somewhere else later, I’ve got to start over from the beginning again, leaving myself once again at risk of getting halfway through before losing the show.
Part of this, at least lately, is the enormous proliferation of streaming options. As in, I suspect that Hulu is losing Kingdom because it’s going to the “Britbox” channel on Amazon Prime. I don’t know that for sure, but would anyone be surprised? I think Netflix is keeping The Great British Baking Show, as it must by law be called in this country (thank you, Pillsbury), by helping to pay for it, but I’m not sure. Anyway, of course a lot of things are leaving various services because Disney+ is gathering its own back.
Conversely, there’s also being charged for things you weren’t charged for before. Amazon has put a lot of stuff I watch behind a paywall now; I can buy seasons and episodes of Time Team that were free just last week. Maybe they’ll be free again in the future; who knows? And, yes, we were paying for Prime, but there are things that were once free there that now aren’t, and while sometimes I can track them down on other services we pay for (or have cough cough access to), sometimes they’re just now rentals, and I have to deal with that fact.
So I would imagine viewer statistics in the last few days something is on a given service skyrocket. If Hulu were to take my Ranma 1/2 away, I wouldn’t binge it any more than I currently do—it’s very much an “on in the background” show for me at the best of times—but I did it when Perry Mason left Prime for CBS All Access. (Neither had all the episodes.) I’m doing it with Kingdom. Doubtless I’ll do it with other shows as they leave various services. And I’m not the only one, and I wonder if it’s something people take into consideration when they talk about reasons people binge.