With its noirish murder mystery miniseries The Night Of, HBO has introduced yet another innovation bound to alter people’s TV-watching habits. The show officially premiered on Sunday, July 10, but the cable network made the first episode (of eight) available to subscribers through HBO On Demand and its online HBOGO service more than two weeks earlier.

Engagement is the holy grail in user experience. Product engineers design for it; business owners strive for it; and users naturally want it. In discussions with owners and executives at cable, OTT, search-and-recommendation and video-streaming companies worldwide, Mediander has found universal agreement on the benefits of user engagement. A more emotionally involved customer is more likely to spend money on products and services. The connection between increased engagement and increased transactions seems like common sense.

We tend to think of our relationship with technology as either online or offline—two states we can toggle like a light switch. When we’re scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed, we’re online; sitting in a coffee shop reading a paperback, we’re offline. For many of us these days, however, no such division exists. Technology is not elective but essential, a fundamental part of how we interact with the world. Like body and mind, working in unison, we walk the earth today as man and machine, two networks coming together as one.

Television has changed a lot in recent years. No longer the sole domain of networks and cable companies, TV is now distributed—and produced—by a growing flock of internet content providers. Facilitated by devices such as Apple TV, the web-based delivery of quality programming is also changing our viewing habits, making bingeing the norm and patience a quaint old virtue. With the release of the fourth season of House of Cards on Netflix this past Friday, we decided to explore our Topics pages for the ways viewers are watching the Emmy-winning drama and other lauded shows. 

“They say we get the leaders we deserve,” begins Frank Underwood’s Oval Office address to you, his loyal fourth wall, in a recent trailer for House of Cards. Season four of the Netflix show premieres tonight and, frankly, the timing couldn’t be more appropriate. As Underwood claws and scrapes his way to victory, so do our own presidential hopefuls. Soon, all the campaigns will blur. Fiction and reality will become one. If we play our cards wrong, this November we may end up with a fictional character for president.