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Home / Features / Extra time: Why Ted Lasso cemented my love for weekly episode drops on streaming TV

Extra time: Why Ted Lasso cemented my love for weekly episode drops on streaming TV

Services not immediately allowing binging is only an own goal if the audience doesn’t care to savour anything

Ted Lassos TV streaming

The new series of Ted Lasso rocked up on streaming TV service Apple TV+ a few weeks ago. If you’ve not watched the show, it features an American college football coach who moves to the UK to manage a fictitious not-American-college football club. Pure ‘fish out of water’ fare. Although by season three, it is stretching some things. Seriously, Ted, you’re still joking you don’t understand the basics of the game? How do you function in life, if you’re incapable of learning? How are you even able to use a smartphone to call your kid back in the US?

Gripes aside, the show is great. I might be a jaded, cynical hack, but even my grump armour can’t survive the feel-good heart and charm at the show’s core. But it appears not everyone has had such a cheery response. Feeling chipper after episode one, I ventured online to see what other people thought about it, and discovered they’d turned into Vinnie Jones, stomping about, looking to rake their studs down someone’s face.

Don’t watch this unless you’ve seen seasons one and two. And then go and watch them. They’re very good.

Extra time

It wasn’t the content of the latest Ted Lasso that made people angry. Season three is considered a step up from its uneven predecessor. It was that the entire season hadn’t been served up in a single convenient package to binge. Those gits at Apple had decided – like many other streaming TV services – that everyone would have to wait an entire week to watch the next episode of their hit show. The horror! Does Apple think we’re all living in 1985? Doesn’t Apple know people need to mainline shows the second they drop? Waiting a week for a new episode is inhumane! A breach of our human rights! Or something.

I like it. This isn’t a desperate play for rose-tinted nostalgia regarding times past either. Traditional broadcast television was awful. I fumed when failing to record on VHS episodes that were never repeated because coverage of people whacking a ball with a stick ran over. I abhorred missing the start of Doctor Who, because the dog decided it desperately needed a wee the moment I’d settled down and woo-ee-oo was blasting forth from the telly. No. On-demand is brilliant. Anyone who claims otherwise is presumably the type that tries to convince anyone who’ll listen that cassette tapes are still cool.

Broken cassette tape
Tapes: not cool. (But this image by Elijah O’Donnell: cool.)

Park the bus

You might contend weekly drops should also be consigned to the past in an age of streaming TV. And they’re no doubt often employed for cynical business and marketing reasons. If a ten-episode run appears across ten weeks, you can’t pay for one month of the service that’s showing it and blaze through the entire thing in one go – unless the run has already completed. And then you’re out of the cultural loop and risk spoilers ruining your fun. Also, press coverage for hit shows will land weekly, rather than in one lump if all the episodes arrive at once. 

But Ted Lasso brought back to me why I like this nugget of old-school thinking living on. You can dip into one episode and not be tempted to watch a half-dozen more into the wee small hours. There’s space to discuss what you’ve seen and how storylines might unfold. (With something like Severance, that was more vital than a ‘nice to have’. Had I binged that in a single sitting, it would have broken my brain.) And, most of all, it provides a richer experience where you can more fully appreciate what you watch, rather than blazing through content as fast as possible to get to the next thing – without really ever caring about any of it.

So I’ll happily wait until 31 May to see how everything plays out at AFC Richmond – on and off the pitch. That’s a better experience than gorging on a dozen episodes in one go, and then sitting there bleary-eyed and fuzz-brained, before realising with a start that everyone has to be up for school and work in two hours.

Related: Cassette tapes were always rubbish and should be consigned to history – unlike Kate Bush

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