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What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

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View Poll Results: What do you think has killed Water Cooler TV/Discussion of shows?
Way too many shows
20.00%
Life - I have less free time now than before
0
0%
Streaming services
42.86%
The shows that are coming out are just not good enough to talk about
5.71%
It's just not fun talking about shows with strangers
0
0%
Crappy fandom - People who disagree with your opinion and get angry at you
2.86%
Multiple reasons above
22.86%
Other - Explain your reason
5.71%
Voters: 35. You may not vote on this poll

What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Old 09-22-21, 06:50 PM
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What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Lots of new shows keep coming out and many just barely get noticed or even discussed here. TV Nielsen ratings are way way down from the hey day. It seems like talking about your favorite shows or episodes has become more of chore now for some of you. There's dozens of streaming services that I know many of you simply don't have the time and money for, so many shows just don't get watched by you.

This forum used to get shows and threads that would get hundreds of pages of talk. Now we're lucky to get even 20. So what do you think has killed Water Cooler TV and discussion in general?

I also think there's less urgency now for some to watch things right away. I see people let episodes build up or just watch something whenever they feel like it because they assume it will always be there.

Last edited by DJariya; 09-22-21 at 07:06 PM.
Old 09-22-21, 06:52 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

The DVR (Tivo)?

And if not that, then streaming for sure. When you can watch stuff at your own pace and aren't glued to your tv at a certain time on a certain day, it's hard to have much to talk about at the same time unless it really is event TV. Which is probably why sports still has some watercooler talk for those who watch it.

The VCR obviously predates the DVR but even that bit of extra effort to time shift something makes a huge difference.
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Old 09-22-21, 07:04 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

streaming and especially things like AMC+ with early premiere has really made it harder to talk about shows in real-time. Between some shows dropping all episodes at one time and the preponderance of shows and platforms, it's harder for a show to find a following. aside for the last season of GOT which ended up being a bad overall experience I can not recall the last time there was any kind of must-watch TV.
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Old 09-22-21, 07:06 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Originally Posted by jpcamb View Post
streaming and especially things like AMC+ with early premiere has really made it harder to talk about shows in real-time. Between some shows dropping all episodes at one time and the preponderance of shows and platforms, it's harder for a show to find a following. aside for the last season of GOT which ended up being a bad overall experience I can not recall the last time there was any kind of must-watch TV.
The other thing is that there is just sooo much content spread across so many networks, as opposed to the "old" days when there were just the major networks, or even the advent of cable TV when there was only a little bit of original content (HBO was definitely a pioneer in that respect). So I think it's hard for anything to really be that breakout hit.
Old 09-22-21, 07:37 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

I agree with what’s already been mentioned but if I had to answer with one word I’d say, “Binging”.
Old 09-22-21, 08:01 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

There is just too much spread throughout too many different platforms and not enough time.
Old 09-22-21, 08:08 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
The other thing is that there is just sooo much content spread across so many networks, as opposed to the "old" days when there were just the major networks, or even the advent of cable TV when there was only a little bit of original content (HBO was definitely a pioneer in that respect). So I think it's hard for anything to really be that breakout hit.
I would say all that but extend it to things like YouTube and Twitch. There are probably accounts that get more weekly viewers to watch them play video games than there are for some network TV shows. Habits have just shifted.
Old 09-22-21, 08:17 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

It was Tivo. You can see it clearly from this thread 16 years ago when I was being really cranky about the whole thing. But yes, Tivo, for sure.
Old 09-22-21, 08:18 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

HBO can still have a show that can dominate the TV zeitgeist, albeit to a lesser degree than in years past. Mare of Easttown and to a lesser extent The White Lotus have been “water cooler” shows. Having weekly episodes really helps in that regard. Netflix has stuck gold a couple of times recently (even without the weekly release) like with The Queen’s Gambit, Stranger Things, Bridgerton and Making a Murderer for example.
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Old 09-22-21, 08:20 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

The fact that after GoT, nothing comes watercoolish. This were iconic all them. No no more when people watch at own pace, whenever.
Old 09-22-21, 08:55 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

I’d say “binge” too, which I guess goes with the DVR era. While I enjoy watching shows week by week, most people binge shows in a few days.

The cliffhanger is no more. The cliffhanger was the water cooler talk. When you binge, the cliffhanger suspense is immediately fulfilled by jumping to the next episode.
Old 09-22-21, 09:32 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

I think there are several factors, but #1 and #2 are just that there is no schedule for anyone to watch anything --except reality competition shows, and with so many platforms, there is no general consensus about what are THE shows to watch.

I've never seen Ted Lasso because I don't have Apple TV, and I just binged Mare of Easttown last week. I had a coworker who loved The Rookie, but she would let them build up on her DVR.

I can't tell you how many times people have asked me about a show that they are just now getting around to watching that I was done with months or even years ago.
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Old 09-22-21, 09:58 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

I think it's a mix of things:

1) So much diversity of not just shows but where to access them. It was one thing to have everyone watch a show and be able to talk about it when the majority of television happened on basically less than 10 television channels: CBS, NBC, FOX, TheCW, HBO, Starz. Monday-Friday 7-10 PM. Now the means of access is muddied and there is so much options of things to watch that not everyone has to watch the same show or at the actual time of broadcast.

2) Streaming & DVR: the ability to watch at any time instead of only at the initial broadcast time means not everyone watches it the day of to be able to talk about it the next day at work.

3) Binge models: Dumping whole seasons at a time means again, people watch at their own pace which also kills the ability to easily discuss things as people are rarely on the same episode. The potential to be spoiled is too great.
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Old 09-22-21, 10:38 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"


Old 09-22-21, 10:42 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

all of the above and the fact that there are no more watercoolers as many people are still working from home. Streaming service dumping all the shows at once but people watching on their own schedules
Old 09-22-21, 10:44 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

DVR was the first thing I thought of when I clicked on this thread.

"Hey, how about what happened on {show} last ni...."

"DON'T TELL ME! I Tivo'd it!"
Old 09-22-21, 10:52 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

For the longest time, the watercooler abruptly died when a particular show went off the air permanently.

I can remember when the original Dynasty and original Dallas first went off the air, any and all watercooler talk died. (Even with the cliffhangers which were initially unresolved in the respective final seasons).
Old 09-22-21, 11:00 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Though with that being said, after y2k the watercooler died when we came to the realization that we were not watching the same shows on various cable channels. My offline social circles had very little intersection/commonality when it came to current television shows. Though there was still some watercooler talk about then-current movies, which I was out of the loop.


After 2010 or so, even network tv shows had less and less watercooler talk in my local social circles. I didn't know anyone locally who was still watching stuff like CSI and Criminal Minds. The other folks in my local social circles were watching reality shows mostly.
Old 09-22-21, 11:01 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

I never had Tivo but used the hell out of my DVR.
Old 09-23-21, 07:55 AM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Originally Posted by MLBFan24 View Post
I’d say “binge” too, which I guess goes with the DVR era. While I enjoy watching shows week by week, most people binge shows in a few days.

The cliffhanger is no more. The cliffhanger was the water cooler talk. When you binge, the cliffhanger suspense is immediately fulfilled by jumping to the next episode.
Yup, agreed. Even here, I feel like an idiot having a discussion about something when I'm in the middle of a show, making predictions and whatnot when the rest of the show is already out there and all those predictions are meaningless.

If GoT was released today as complete season drops, most of the talk/speculation would revolve around the finales. It had pretty perfect timing coming in when HBO Go was just a secondary source for the channel, as it trained people to tune in to the HBO channel for the premiere. With Max being a thing even with weekly releases people can and will just watch it whenever. All of the recent streaming popular shows like Mandalorian, the Marvel Disney + stuff, Queen's Gambit, etc. get minimal discussion while the show is airing, at least compared to the "old days."
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Old 09-23-21, 10:29 AM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

I think the answer is too much content. Everything else is sort of a symptom of it. For example, when you ask people what they are watching, it's usually a show that aired awhile ago that they wanted to watch at the time but couldn't fit it in. When you have less choices, people tend to watch the same shows at the same time.

Plus the show has to be popular and worth discussing. I really think those types of shows are becoming rare.
Old 09-23-21, 10:54 AM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

I've noticed my local offline watercooler talk about tv shows, essentially resembles watercooler talk about music for the longest time I can recall.

There was nothing to talk about in regard to recent/current music at the watercooler, if we didn't know what one another's musical tastes were. (Also politics/religion, which we won't go into even when we knew one another's political/religious leanings).
Old 09-23-21, 04:33 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Yeah I should have put that in the poll, but the "binge" model, which Netflix started really killed having people watch shows at the same time. Also, DVRs didn't help either.

I remember like 10-12 years ago, Thursdays and Sundays were two of the busiest nights on TV with so much to watch at the same time and this forum did try to talk about and keep up with everything. But, once DVRs, Hulu and such became so prolific, the sense of urgency to keep up with everything diminished.

Bottom line, no one is watching television at the same time anymore. People, especially here, just casually watch things at their own pace.
Old 09-23-21, 04:35 PM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

People realized that watching one episode a week was a terrible experience.
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Old 09-24-21, 12:02 AM
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Re: What do you think killed "Water Cooler/Discussion TV?"

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
People realized that watching one episode a week was a terrible experience.
I enjoy shows so much more when they release weekly.

When they're released all at once they tend to be written for people to watch all at once. They take a movie plot and try to stretch it into 8-13 episodes, usually to boring results. I'm so tired of starting a series and having to fight falling asleep through the first three episodes because they just take it for granted that you're going to watch the whole season.
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