Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Long Should You Wait To Discuss TV Shows?

I had a terrible time coming up with a title for this post, but I think it sums up everything I'm curious about.

It's premier week on TV, and I haven't had time to watch any of the shows I love. A friend asked me if I'd caught the premier of "Glee," and when I said that I hadn't, she didn't go into anything about the show, but said that I needed to hurry up and watch it so she could get someone else's opinion on it. And this got me thinking...

Technology has changed the game. In the past, you could watch something on TV, then the next day you would go to work and talk about it. Now, you tweet while you're watching the show, and everyone around the world can see it. This is a great way to discuss what's going on with other people, as it happens, but it can also sting if the wrong person sees it.

Living on the west coast, I'm part of the group that gets burned. I remember a few years ago logging onto Yahoo, and finding out that Carrie Underwood had won American Idol....2 hours before the show aired where I lived.

Yahoo has since learned their lesson, and they (like most other sites) won't post anything crucial on their main page. You have to click through to see it. I think I even saw that MSN wouldn't put Olympic medal news on their main page until after it had aired.

But major websites aren't the real problem. It's the individual on Facebook or Twitter. And when I say "problem," I don't mean to imply that most people do it intentionally (like the assholes who went around to Harry Potter midnight release parties shouting "Dumbledore Dies!"). I just mean that individuals tend to say what's on their mind, without an editor saying, "Wait, we can't post this just yet."

Recently on Facebook, Chef Kevin Gillespie, a former contestant on Top Chef posted something about this season's winner. He quickly took it down and apologized to the west coast viewers who hadn't seen the show yet.

So when is too soon to spoil something? I think we can all agree that if you're on the east coast, maybe give the west coast their 3 hours to catch up. But most people don't seem to follow that. You can hop on twitter and your east coast friends are tweeting away about what just happened.

OK, so you can avoid social media for a few hours if your on the west coast. It doesn't seem fair, but it's probably the best way to avoid spoilers.

But then we get to the next dilemma: DVRs. Lots of people have busy lives, and I know I'm one who tends to let shows accumulate, then catch up on the weekend, or maybe on a weeknight later in the week if there's time.

I've spoken to several people who seem to agree that most shows deserve at least a day or 2, because of the DVR situation. Let your friends catch up before you start dropping spoilers.

But what's an acceptable time frame? Do we give people 2 days before we drop any spoilers? Give them through the weekend? That might be basically a full week if the show is on Monday. What do you think is a fair amount?

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