Are You A Binge Watcher?
Streaming giant Netflix has released the results of a new study into TV viewing habits and have concluded something that I’m sure a lot of you know already:
“ TV Binge Watching is the New Normal”
This is just another nail in the coffin of the traditional TV model. Consumers now want to access to their content when they want and on their terms.
The idea of watching a show when some TV network tells us to watch is long over.
The results describe my viewing habits exactly. I have been watching TV online for years now and I definitely fall into the binge watching category.
I now hardly watch any TV shows week by week (in fact I only watch one show week to week right now and that’s via 4od’s online catch up ) and I’m more than happy to wait till the end of a season so I can catch up on the whole show one after another in a hefty block of 2-4 episodes before moving on to another season of another show.
In fact in certain circumstances I’m even happy enough to wait till a series end completely before watching (as long as I know the end is near). I did that with Spartacus, The Wire and Breaking Bad and I loved the experiences.
The only negative is that it means you have to work extra hard to avoid spoilers! Something which is increasingly difficult in our socially connected world.
Read More: Netflix: Does Exclusivity Beat Inclusivity?
It’s ironic that this was confirmed by Netflix – the natural successor to DVD. In my opinion its DVD box sets that sparked this way of viewing TV. In fact Sky, the UK’s biggest satellite broadcaster, is selling its new on demand service on the fact that it offers full DVD style TV box sets!
Some will argue “of course Netflix is going to say this – they want more customers” and it’s no surprise the platform (and many of its rivals) are making major plays for original long-form content.
But that is to miss the point.
As with mobile tech, apps, gaming and online retails and interaction in general customers are now very comfortable with dictating how they want their products and expect their experiences to be tailored to their way of living.
And why not?
It’s also amusing that the study confirms that viewers aren’t ashamed by this style of viewing. In the past binge watching had negative connotations with brainless coach potatoes but I think it speaks to the quality of the highly serialised television we are now enjoying. We are in, after all, the Golden (or Platinum) Age of TV.
Serialised shows like Lost, Game Of Thrones, Mad Men etc. work best when viewed in batches and the week-long wait for the next instalment feels archaic and redundant.
Online streaming is finally delivering us a platform worthy of great TV. So long live Binge Watching!
Some key stats from the study:
- Among those who ever stream multiple episodes of a TV series in a row, 38% most like to do so solo; however, a combined 51% prefer to watch with at least one other person.
- 39% of TV streamers who prefer to “save” TV shows to watch at a later date choose to stream saved series or seasons when the person they want to watch with is available.
- 76% of TV streamers say watching multiple episodes of a great TV show is a welcome refuge from busy lives.
- 65% of TV streamers said that if they took a digital time out, they would still want to watch TV.
- 80% of TV streamers say they would rather stream a good TV show than read a friend’s social media posts.
Here are the full results of the study from Netflix:
Study Finds 73% of TV Streamers Feel Good About It
‘Selfies’ may be the official new word of 2013, but Binge-Watching was a runner up for a reason. A recent survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Netflix among nearly 1,500 TV streamers (online U.S. adults who stream TV shows at least once a week) found that binge watching is a widespread behavior among this group, with 61% binge watching regularly (Of all TV streamers binge watching 2-3 episodes at least every few weeks).
If the common perception of binge watching was a weekend-long, pajama-wearing marathon of TV viewing, survey respondents don’t see it that way. A majority (73%) defined binge watching as watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting. And there’s no guilt in it. Nearly three quarters of TV streamers (73%) say they have positive feelings towards binge streaming TV.
To better understand why binge watching has become such a cultural phenomenon, Netflix worked with cultural anthropologist, Grant McCracken, to trace the evolution of binge watching and more importantly, to explore how and why binge watching television is resonating with today’s viewers. McCracken went into the living rooms of several TV viewers across the United States and Canada to explore their changing TV behaviors.
“I found that binge watching has really taken off due to a perfect storm of better TV, our current economic climate and the digital explosion of the last few years,” said Grant McCracken, cultural anthropologist. “But this TV watcher is different, the couch potato has awoken. And now that services like Netflix have given consumers control over their TV viewing, they have declared a new way to watch.”
“Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix. “Netflix has pioneered audience choice in programming and has helped free consumers from the limitations of linear television. Our own original series are created for multi-episodic viewing, lining up the content with new norms of viewer control for the first time.”
McCracken believes our digital lifestyle, where storytelling is often reduced to bite-sized, 140 character conversations, leaves us craving the kind of long narrative of storytelling in today’s great TV shows. “TV viewers are no longer zoning out as a way to forget about their day, they are tuning in, on their own schedule, to a different world. Getting immersed in multiple episodes or even multiple seasons of a show over a few weeks is a new kind of escapism that is especially welcomed today,” he added.
TV streamers overwhelmingly agreed. 76% of TV streamers say watching multiple episodes of a great TV show is a welcome refuge from their busy lives. 79% said watching several episodes of their favorite shows at once actually makes the shows more enjoyable. And three-quarters (76%) also say streaming TV shows on their own schedule is their preferred way to watch them.
McCracken found a new trend emerging he characterizes as “In case of emergency, break glass.” TV streamers are deciding to save shows to watch for a later date. While McCracken observed this in his research, the survey confirmed that more than one third (37%) of TV streamers said they prefer to “save” new TV series or seasons to stream at a later date.
So are you a binge watcher too? Let me know below!
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