Series Evaluation

The monitoring of TV series is a serious science. The evaluation of so-called binch viewing has redrawn attention to the field of media studies again. We observe a bit across Europe, following the US experience, the change of TV productions into series that may run over several years. The successful format of a TV series draws advertising to the relatively constant audience. Most series have a particular age group as their target group. Viewing behavior determines time slots allocated. Each group has its own prime time. The publisher of books had their successes with similar series of for example children’s picture books or cartoons. Asterix, Martine and similar book series have basically applied the same “serial” mechanism before. Popular success creates its own dynamics. Therefore the evaluation of such serial productions should stay on our research agenda of the social sciences as well.

In a radio discussion “France Culture” has juxtaposed the 2 currents of series evaluation in a concise way. One current of assessment holds the view that rather than high versus low culture, the debate should take popular culture seriously. It augments the set of experiences as the characters in a TV series live through a kind of “experimental setting” each time anew. The variety of experiences is catching popular attention as they are beyond the scope of the spectator’s usual life settings and thereby a learning opportunity. This highlights the value of the content in the evaluation. This requires a thorough scrutiny of that content to evaluate an emancipatory value of viewing it (Sandra Lauglier, 2023).

An opposing view is defended by Bertrand Cochard (2024) with reference to the conflict about one’ use of free time available to us and how we spend it. His criticism takes issue with the amount of time “lost” by viewers of series. Time is not spent twice. The loss of time alone or side by side rather than spending it with other persons or physically active constitutes a major risk to the social fabric of society.The jury is still out on the issue. We likely see the start of a series of entries on this topic as well.