Television binging… are you guilty?


I’m currently making my way through series three of US sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, with the rest of the box set lined up waiting for me to indulge on. And, with the cold weather creeping in and autumn around the corner, I feel less guilty spending my weekends lounging on the sofa gorging on TV shows.

I find that I don’t watch too many movies anymore and I wondered if it was just me. There is definitely more of a buzz around TV series right now and it’s probably down to Netflix. The streaming service is worth over $20 billion, has over 50 million subscribers and its shows received a massive 31 Emmy nominations earlier this summer. Obviously doing something right, or is the time just right for this kind of entertainment?

The question is: do people prefer watching TV series rather than films? While that might not necessarily be the case, viewers are certainly hooked on binge-watching TV. For those who don’t know, binge-watching is where a viewer watches TV for longer time spans than usual, around 2-6 episodes at a time, and normally of a single programme. The best example of the latest binge-watching craze is Netflix’s Breaking Bad where, I think, everyone who watched the show as hooked and couldn’t stop watching, myself included. According to a study by Harris Interactive, 61{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} of Netflix users binge-watch shows at least every few weeks.

I guess it’s all about instant gratification – gone are the days when you had to wait a week, or even longer, for the next instalment of a show… I remember waiting for Lost each week with so much anticipation that it almost killed me.

Netflix releases a whole series at a time, enabling this binge behaviour. Netflix has said that by reviewing its viewing data, it shows that users prefer having the whole series, so they can watch in their own time.

But why do we binge? Turns out, most of the time it’s done accidentally – which is something I can definitely relate to, especially when you have a comfy sofa. However, this can only be done because Netflix allows us to, by giving us the availability to watch episode after episode, and with series like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, who can resist?

I think another contributing factor is the sheer choice of programmes – I can revisit my favourites or catch up on new shows. Will this have an effect on our traditional broadcasters, even if they offer on demand functionality? If I can get all of my shows in one place, at the same time, will I still be watching good old BBC, Sky, or ITV?

And, even though I still have six series left of How I Met Your Mother (that’s roughly 122 episodes), the only question on my mind is: what series should I watch next?