Water-Cooler Programming Can't Exist When Viewers Drink Bottled Water

Looking for water-cooler TV programs? First, find the water cooler and all that goes with it.

If you are working from home more these days, it's tough to talk about TV shows in the break room.

Netflix is making such conversation even harder. Its new "House of Cards" looks to push the idea of time-shifted -- or time-sensitive – programming even further. The complete first season of the series, which is a spin on a British show, is now available to Netflix subscribers.

You want to talk about the show with your friends? Well, you know where to go these days. It isn't in real time, and probably won't deliver much liquid. You need to go to your favorite social media area -- Facebook, Twitter, or maybe GetGlue or Viggle.

Even then where do you start, or end, talk about a 13-episode season? Perhaps you can talk about an entire season as if it was just one episode. But, of course, your friends then need to do some heavy screening -- or you'll need to issue spoiler alerts. In fact, if the Netflix model takes hold, the term "spoiler alerts" will probably have to be renamed with more attitude -- something like "you-are-so-yesterday alerts.”

Viewers have been moved to watch shows based on ratings success press releases from traditional networks. Everyone loves bigger numbers. But Netflix has said it won’t play this game. We won't clearly know how many viewers watch a Netflix series. Is that the shape of things to come?

Did a particular episode of a show get 2 million, 7 million or 18 million viewers? And what does that mean in a country of some 314 million?

CBS and other networks are already thinking about less-urgent ways than standard ratings to gauge the value of a TV show's performance. They are looking to persuade analysts to observe all viewing -- live, time shifted, and otherwise. This is closer to where Netflix wants to go

Looking for water-cooler programming? Take a look at the bottle of water you just took a swig out of. Everyone can find their own particular way to quench entertainment thirst.

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