House of Cards Demonstrates How TV Viewing Practices Have Changed

stephanie farisJul 20, 2013 02:10 PM EDT

Traditionally, TV episodes have been doled out one episode at a time. Viewers were required to wait days, weeks, and sometimes months to see the next episode of a favorite show. Unlike movies, where audiences are provided a continuous story they follow through to the end, viewers were required to wait to learn what happened next.

Online streaming has changed all of that. Services like Netflix and Hulu allow consumers to catch up on an entire series in one long weekend. As a result, the viewing habits of television audiences are gradually shifting, and sites like Netflix are not only realizing it, they're providing programming that satisfies the demand.

As evidence, Netflix recently announced that the second season of its popular original series House of Cards season 2 will be released just as the first season was. All 13 episodes of House of Cards Season 2 will be posted at once, giving viewers the option of watching on their own terms, rather than letting the TV programmers decide how to break them up.

The viewing habits of the average American family have been gradually evolving since the 1980s, with VCRs and DVRs giving families the option of recording shows to watch at their own convenience. Gone are the days when families rearranged their schedules to be in front of the TV at 8 p.m. on Thursday night. Today, consumers are able to record all of their favorite TV shows to watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Online streaming has provided an additional layer of convenience. Streaming players from Roku, Sony PlayStation, and Blu-Ray DVD players allow consumers to connect to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and other online streaming providers to watch entire seasons of shows like House of Cards season 2. For a small monthly fee, those consumers can skip cable subscriptions and watch entire seasons of TV shows in a variety of genres. Many of those shows may not be the latest and greatest, but consumers don't mind. In fact, online streaming has breathed new life into long-canceled shows like Arrested Development and Scrubs. House of Cards Season 2 is part of a new venture for many online streaming services, who have learned that they can produce their own content and lure in new monthly subscribers.

When House of Cards season 2 launches later this year, fans will be able to begin watching with episode 1 and watch all the way through if they choose. They may also choose to watch House of Cards season 2 one episode at a time, two episodes at a time, or as they find time in their busy schedules. However successful House of Cards season 2 is, one thing is clear: the way we watch TV is changing and TV networks will be required to change with it...or be left behind.

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