TV Shows Previewing the Next Episode

On the next…

Those words are spoken at the end of most drama or reality TV shows these days. What immediately follows are clips of the next episode of said television show. When I was younger, and ER was in it’s heyday, this was one of my favorite moments of the week. So much manufactured drama. So much suspense. I couldn’t wait for next week. But as I have gotten older, I have stopped watching these previews.

First and foremost, in the DVR age, my wife and I frequently watch multiple episodes of the same show in succession. So there is no need to build suspense, because I am immediately going to see what happens next. But even for shows I don’t let build up (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, etc.), I still don’t want the next episode spoiled.

I understand networks want to make sure viewers come back, but who are these things targeted at? Most TV shows I (or people I know) watch, I watch regularly. A plot line on the next episode is not going to get me watch, or keep me from watching. If I like a show, I like a show. And if I am ready to give up on a show, the next episode is not going to make a difference.

The more I thought about this though, the more I realized there are surely ulterior motives at play here. These previews also occur after the show has ended, and often happen after the first credits are shown. In between the credits and the preview of the next episode are commercials. And often immediately following the preview, the next television show starts. So the network is getting two benefits out of this. First, they are getting people to watch commercials after the TV show ends. Second, they are creating a lead-in for their next show.

That makes complete sense too. Most decisions TV networks make are financially motivated, and this gives people a reason to not change the channel, or shut off their TV right as an episode ends. I would imagine most people watch these previews, and while I don’t know exactly how effective these tactics are, it finally makes sense.