The TV Trap

Since I started watching it last year, Fringe has become one of my all-time most favorite TV shows of all time.

Problem is, I was late jumping onto the Fringe bandwagon, and I’m adamant about watching shows in order, especially when, like Fringe, the show has a complex plot with twists, turns and delightful surprises. I’ve been steadily catching up disc by disc through Blockbuster mail service, but when I hit the end of season three next week, I’m going to have a serious problem.

Season five launches this September. I could easily race through season four in time for the season opener … if only they’d release it already.

I considered finally trying out hulu’s subscriber program just for access to season four episodes, but then I discovered that even shelling out $8 a month doesn’t get you full access to current seasons for all shows … Fringe only offers the last five episodes.

What’s a fan to do? I know “everyone” does it, but as a fiction writer and an avid art lover, I’ve never supported illegal downloads. I’m also not one to shell out $50 for a season of a TV show just for the sake of catching up. But it's starting to look like my only option.

But, it doesn’t even become available to pre-orderers until September 4. Season 5 starts

What gives, WB? Don’t you want fans to be able to catch up? I am scrambling here. Just so I can watch your shows in real time, along with all your nice commercials and promos, on your actual channel.

This kind of viewer loyalty’s harder and harder to come by in a digital world with so many options. Why are you making it so hard for me?

The flip side to this is, of course, if you’re caught up on a show, you’re trapped. If you love it enough to follow it every week, you have to plan your life around it or accept that you’ll be hulu-ing it the rest of the season and be perpetually eight days behind. Or else risk missing something big.

And much as I’d like to leave it there and pin it on WB, HBO has made it just as hard for me to keep pace with True Blood, as has AMC with Walking Dead.

The result is a system that rewards only early adopters who stick with the show, and makes it hard to expand your real-time viewing audience. 

Emily Wenstrom
Creative Juicer
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