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August 29, 2014

The impact of spoilers

by Isabelle Carreau, posted Mar 21st 2007 3:22PM
Next on...To spoil or not to spoil, that is the question. No matter what you think the answer to this question is, spoilers are important for television. From previews aired both on TV and the web, not forgetting on cellphones, to cast interviews both in print and on entertainment shows before key episodes air, networks know the power of spoilers. They attract viewers. They create a buzz. They sell.

Spoilers have been around for years (maybe even since the first scripted series hit the airwaves?) However, they got a big boost in the past five years or so. The Internet is surely to be thanked for this surge in popularity as they can now be accessed in seconds.

Is there such a thing as too many spoilers? Do spoilers only help a show or can they hurt a show as well?

Spoilers can be quite powerful for certain series. Ever stopped watching a series but came back to it when you heard some actor would die, or that a special guest star would be featured? That's one example of the impact spoilers can have. However, spoilers can be good... or bad.

Back in Season 2 of Lost, it was leaked over the summer that a major cast member would die in a Fall episode. this created a major buzz all over the Internet and around watercoolers. Who will die? They can't kill a regular, can they? This buzz had some people who had missed a few episodes find a way to watch the episodes so they would be up-to-date when this major death would occur. A few weeks before the death occured, Ain't It Cool News revealed the name of the soon-to-be-dead character: Shannon! This revelation rocked the Lost fandom and even the TV fandom as a whole. Was this too much info? Should this spoiler not have been given? Maybe, as it had some fans outraged at the fact Shannon would die. But other fans rejoiced and were even more excited at the upcoming episode, wondering how the show would pull such a death. It also attracted viewers who stopped watching because they didn't care much for Shannon and even had some non-fans watch out of curiosity.

However, too many spoilers can hurt a show. Some sites on the net give highly detailed descriptions of upcoming episodes which sometimes lead to viewers not even bothering to watch the episode, as they know it all. If we go back to that Lost example, knowing a major character would die generated the needed buzz before Season 2 began and the tragic episode aired. However, saying exactly who would die ended up being bad and good for the show. Some people were so mad at Lost for killing Shannon that they haven't watched an episode since they heard that news. If they hadn't known the name, maybe they would have watched the episode and saw how it was dealt with... maybe they would still be viewers of the show.

Love them or not, spoilers are here to stay and they do have an impact, be it positive or not. Some people, let's just name Michael Ausiello from TV Guide and Kristin Veitch from E!, make a living of spoiling people. SpoilerFix.com, a website solely about spoilers, has been spoiling fans for over five years now and gets as many as 25 millions hits per month. New sites try to do just that, give spoilers for many TV series. The latest addition being Spoiler TV.

Spoilers should be handled tastefully and still leave things to be revealed in the episodes. That is what we are trying to do here at TV Squad in our weekly spoilers round up: Spoilers Anonymous (SA). To help spoilers fans easily track the spoilers we listed in SA for their favorite shows, we also added a few separate spoilers pages.

To spoil or not to spoil? We believe the answer is "to spoil" but with some restraint...

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Dave

I hate spoilers. I was given a gift subscription to Entertainment Weekly and I can't read anything about my favorite shows like LOST because they give away so much. I read the first two paragraphs about LOST and they tell me a detail about an episode that doesn't air for 5 weeks afterwards - no thank you. I would rather be surprised when it actually happens.

On another note, I hate when previews give out too much information. Being a fan of Prison Break, I haven't watched a "On next week's Prison Break" promo since the 5th or 6th episode after I realized that all the previews they were showing weren't just giving me information on the next week's episode, bur most of the stuff that they show doesn't happen in the next episode. When I watch the next episode, it just feels like I've watched filler because I know what's going to happen eventually and in the hour of TV I just sat through, they never got around to it. LOST has been doing that this season as well. If I want to know what's going to happen down the road, I'll visit one of the many spoiler sites, but networks shouldn't be doing it to their viewers.

March 24 2007 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Netdiva

I am completely and thoroughly spoiled for the last 2 eps of Battlestar Galactica and I love it. The actual ep differs from reading about plot points, so it doesn't mess with my enjoyment of the show. I go looking for spoilers and I love them - so I don't mind hearing every little detail.

My view is: if you don't want to be spoiled for an show, don't look for spoilers.

March 22 2007 at 7:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
netdiva

I am completely and thoroughly spoiled for the last 2 eps of Battlestar Galactica and I love it. The actual ep differs from reading about plot points, so it doesn't mess with my enjoyment of the show. I go looking for spoilers and I love them - so I don't mind hearing every little detail.

My view is: if you don't want to be spoiled for an show, don't look for spoilers.

March 22 2007 at 7:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
netdiva

I am completely and thoroughly spoiled for the last 2 eps of Battlestar Galactica and I love it. The actual ep differs from reading about plot points, so it doesn't mess with my enjoyment of the show. I go looking for spoilers and I love them - so I don't mind hearing every little detail.

My view is: if you don't want to be spoiled for an show, don't look for spoilers.

March 22 2007 at 7:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Estee

I love spoilers and do not find them to detract from my viewing pleasure at all. When my kids were younger I used spoilers to gauge the suitability of their viewing a certain episode. Now I use spoilers mostly in self-defense.

March 22 2007 at 4:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris Wyant

Wow... The legendary SecretAgentMan! Your Lost spoilers are tasteful and always well-founded. I hate the InsiderScoop spoilers though because they're complete summaries of a yet-to-air episode, sometimes week(s) in advance. I like hints, casting news, and location spoilers, but when huge bombshells are spelled out it takes the magic out of watching the show.

March 21 2007 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

Michael Ausiello earned my respect last year by keeping the deaths of Libby and Ana Lucia secret until the day after. That showed class. With Ain't it Cool News I was spoiled about the deaths in X-Men 3, and they didn't just spoil a few deaths, they described almost every detail of the plot! That was NOT classy! I wasn't sure if the spoilers were real, but I still had to keep this secret from everyone I knew. After I saw the movie, I made it a point never to return to that site.

I love spoilers and I regularly check in to Ask Ausiello and I scan the previews frame by frame. I know a personal experience where network spoilers backfired is when Josh Schartz, creator of The O.C. fed Ausiello a false scoop by saying that someone who would "hover near death" in last years season finale would be Sandy. This wasn't a hover, Marissa clearly died! Maybe it was my small crush on Mischa Barton, but I was so shocked I didn't tune back in. For me, it isn't about the mystery, it's about the journey.

March 21 2007 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Televinita

No matter how much info gets leaked beforehand, I never think it ruins an episode - I could have the whole script in my hands, but I'd still tune in to see it with my own eyes. It never turns out quite the same as you imagine it from reading the spoilers alone.

Frankly, I wouldn't be able to stand it if I didn't have at least a few hints on a regular basis for shows I enjoy. It gives me something to think about during rerun weeks, so I know what to look forward to. If it's good news, then I get that much more time to anticipate it, and if it's bad, then at least I have time to get mad about it and complain and probably cool off by the time it actually airs, so I don't walk away entirely.

March 21 2007 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
superbagman

I used to be a spoiler fanatic during the late 90's with regards to The X-Files, but with that show finding out the premise of an episode didn't totally blow the entire season. With 24, Lost, Battlestar and Heroes being ongoing serials (way moreso than the X-files was) getting ruined on a specific plot point can ruin your enjoyment of a large chunk of episodes.

March 21 2007 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan Chichian

I think spoilers can be a good thing for many regular viewers of a show. I do not think the casual viewer is checking out spoiler sites. Can a spoiler bring a former viewer back? Quite possible, I know that I would go back to watching CSI if I were promised that the Electra Slide was killed off and it was paired with a news item stating that Jorja Fox was either not renewed or was fired.

Notice that I look for a confirming source since some spoilers do not get it right and you absolutely can not trust the network promo monkeys!

March 21 2007 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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