Back to IndieWire

How to Gift TV in the 21st Century: 5 Ways to Share TV Shows for the Holidays

Give the gift of very good TV this year, in any form you choose.

Millie Bobby Brown, "Stranger Things"

Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”

Courtesy of Netflix

This week on the Very Good TV Podcast, TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers ponder the most practical way to bestow the great gift of television to your loved ones this holiday season. As the medium expands and contorts to fit any type of consumer’s preferred viewing experience, matters become a bit more complex than simply deciding which wrapping paper to use.

The amount of premium streaming services available make it nearly impossible to settle on one singular way to give someone a series. Most shows are available on one service or another, but the timeless debate of physical versus digital will forever play an important factor. Here are a few of the best ways to put your loved ones on to a new series or one they already adore. Read on and listen below.

Physical Copies

There’s nothing like ripping open wrapping paper to find a real-life present bought specifically for you. Actual gifts almost always elicit an adorable response from the receiver, making the process extra fun for both parties involved. But it’s definitely trickier (and pricier) to buy someone a full series, considering the entirety of “Game Of Thrones” is also on HBO GO.

One motivating factor to go old school: The charm of physical copies comes in the bonus features, the extensive artwork, and the appearance. Just picturing all seven seasons of “Game Of Thrones” on a mounted surface is enough to give any mega-fan serious chills. It’s also a foolproof way to ensure the person receiving the series will have access to a great show no matter what happens to their network subscription.

Game of Thrones Sean Bean

Streaming Subscriptions

If there’s one thing people love no matter what, it’s instant access to countless films and shows in the comfort of their homes. Giving the gift of a streaming service subscription requires more thought, but the payoff is worthwhile. It’s safe to assume most people have access to Netflix, a longtime player (and frontrunner) in the streaming game. To find out which services the giftee does not currently have access to, just ask if they’ve seen new noteworthy shows like Netflix’s “Godless,” Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” or Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” They’ll most likely respond with, “I don’t have [one of these options]” and that’s how you know which to buy.

Most streaming services have a version of a gift card, such as Netflix whose price ranges from $30-$100, Amazon Prime where you can buy a three-month membership, and HBO Now, Showtime, and more.

Digital Copies

Digital copies of television shows are also a viable option for gifting, as one can purchase a Google Play, Amazon, or iTunes gift card for anyone and feel reasonably safe they’ll be able to use it. That being said, using gift cards can be risky: Old stigmas around gift cards still exist, as some people still see them as the less personal, easier gifting option.

To avoid such miscommunications, try writing series recommendations in the card to show how much thought and care you put into your gift. The same tactic can used for a greeting card filled with cold hard cash, and that way you don’t have to worry about the receiver’s preferred digital download option. (You never know who uses Google over iTunes.)

These days, gift cards are usually welcome handouts, since the person who’s received it won’t be left with a gift they might not like. And the good thing about digital copies, opposed to streaming services, is that they’re yours whenever you want — even when there’s no wi-fi — making it the perfect gift for someone who’s always traveling.


The gift of television can be found in other mediums as well, such as the incredible scores and soundtracks of your loved ones’ favorite shows. For the music and television lovers in our lives, TV albums are a great way to feel the thrills and chills of an hour-long drama in a new light. The “Stranger Things” soundtrack comes in a cassette tape for our hipster homies, limited edition vinyl for the record collectors, and albums for those of us without working AUX cords. Most, if not all, television shows have a well-intentioned musical component for sale that’ll brighten anyone fan’s day.


So your co-worker is constantly talking about “Mr. Robot” and it seems like they just can’t get enough. They’ve seen every episode multiple times and you catch them watching interviews with the cast during their break. A Funko Pop Figure of Elliot may be the right direction to steer in when dealing with a super fan. These endearing little figures have taken the pop culture world by storm, and chances are there’s one for everybody. Funkos are a charming gift for the character lover in your life, but television merchandise in general can score big with loved ones. Any massive media outlet, like FYE, Hot Topic, even a local Wal-Mart are known to carry Funkos, T-shirts, and even a Negan bat.

There’s plenty of ways to indulge friends and family in a great TV show, and like the reality of television today, how they choose to watch is completely up to you. There’s no shortage of great TV to pass along, so make sure there’s no excuses for missing out this holiday season.

Don’t forget to subscribe via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your TV news. Check our Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for lots more. Plus, check out IndieWire’s other podcasts: Screen Talkwith Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson as well as Michael Scheider’s new podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV of each week.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox