Netflix: Binge TV watching is the new normal

Spending hours on the sofa watching multiple episodes of a television show is very common, the video-streaming company says.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 16, 2013 2:45PM

Image: Watching television (© Klaus Tiedge/Getty Images/Getty Images)By Rex Crum

"Binge viewing," also known as "sitting around in your sweatpants all weekend and doing nothing but watching 12 straight hours of a TV show," is with us to stay. 

It's a practice tailor-made for watching all of a brand new show that you might have just heard of. It's also perfect if you are a fan of some program that has been off the air for years, and now you can watch all 80 episodes of, say, the original "Star Trek" series.

Of course, if you did that, you might also need to heed the advice from William Shatner, Capt. James T. Kirk himself, who in a famous "Saturday Night Live" sketch from 1986, chided a group of "Trekkies" at a one of the show's conventions to "get a life!"

One of those places where you can binge on "Star Trek," and thousands of other shows, is on Netflix (NFLX), which on Friday went so far as to call binge viewing "the New Normal."

Netflix was able to do this via the results of a study it commissioned of its viewers in order to get a sense of just how popular binge viewing is, and what actually constitutes binge viewing behavior. The study, conducted on Netflix's behalf by Harris Interactive, occurred online between Nov. 25 and 27, and consisted of 3,078 adults, aged 18 or older, out of which almost 1,500 streamed TV shows at least once a week.

The results said 61% of respondents binge-watch "regularly," by "watching 2-3 episodes at least every few weeks." The study also said that 73% of respondents "have positive feelings toward binge watching TV," and 73% also defined binge watching as watching between two and six episodes of the same TV show in a single sitting.

Other findings from the study included:

  • Forget Facebook (FB). The survey said 80% of TV streamers would rather stream a good TV show than read a friend's social-media posts.
  • You're not a recluse. Well, not entirely. Netflix said that "among those who ever stream multiple episodes of a TV series in a row," 38% were most likely to do so by themselves, but 51% prefer to binge with another person watching with them.
  • Regular TV's not going away. The survey found that 65% of TV streamers would still want to watch TV even "if they took a digital timeout" from streaming.

With Netflix adding more TV shows almost daily, and building up its original programming with entire seasons of shows like "House of Cards," "Orange Is The New Black," "Arrested Development" and "Derek" available all at once, it’s probably safe to say that binging is only going to grow in the years to come. 

Whether that means you have got a life, well, that's another matter entirely.

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Tags: NFLX
Dec 16, 2013 9:43PM

I live in an area (rural) where cable isn't available, and since I'm retired, the cost of cable or dish is too much anyway. 

I'm retired.  Yes, I do 'binge-watch' at times?  Well, the temperature last night was -24 degrees with a wind-chill of -45.  Watching about 5 hours of a TV mini-series beats frost-bite?  Then we got an inch of snow when it warmed-up to about 6 degrees?  Kicked back on my recliner, covered up with a quilt and spent about 5 hours watching a program that kept me coming back for more?  Maybe finish it tonight? 

I love Netflix!  I can pause it, or stop it, then pick it up the next day where I left off.

Oh, spent most of today thawing frozen water pipes...

Dec 16, 2013 6:58PM

They have a name for everything.  I guess then you would say I am "binge Netflixer".  Why? we live in rural area we do not have cable (antennas still exist) so we never got to see these shows first time around.  Also we can watch  them on our time schedule.  Sorry to inform you Robbin 1620 I have an active live always form TV also.  So when those "reality shows" are on during my time to watch I binge on the shows that I want to watch.  I get to watch old tv show , Discover Channel shows and my wife get to watch foreign movies.

Dec 16, 2013 6:26PM
Too many people like robin1620, are so concerned about how much tv others are watching, makes me wonder what robin1620 is doing with his/her time off!!!Maybe robin1620 should spend some quality time watching some tv,then he/she would have a life!
Dec 16, 2013 6:18PM
I'll put net-fix  on (yes I spelled it wrong intentionally) when I'm doing chores around the house.  Can scan a whole season of familiar shows while doing you house work. :)
Dec 16, 2013 6:56PM
Netflix is awesome! There are many good shows such as Arrow, Breaking Bad, and Doctor Who but there are also many good movies too.
Dec 16, 2013 7:34PM
OH PLEASE. This is nothing new. Mostly people are just doing it for the achievements on xbox one, but people ALWAYS have sat and watched 12 hours of tv and always will.
Dec 17, 2013 8:50AM
Most MSN(and MSM) articles nowadays are so easily formulated to rile people up over stupid crap. You know how they do it? They accuse you of doing something wrong, something close to home/heart that they really have not a chance in hell of changing-- just to make you feel badly. Why? So they can watch this forum turn into a slobbery pack of wolves biting at each other. It's also DATA MINING on behalf of the company/industry being talked about!!!! Better than polls, people. Much more accurate. Companies can stroll through this discussion and get the skinny on just how people justify their actions or feelings.

Reporters are not reporters any longer, they are shills for corporations.

This isn't news. It's browbeating and instigating. It's actually trolling-- the worst form-- CORPORATE trolling. The only way you can stop it from continuing is to write messages like this one to wake people up as to how they're being manipulated.

You might say, "Hey, what's wrong with telling this company how I feel," but at the same time have you accepted the fact that telephone consumer surveys are way down and they have to PAY people to take them now??

Remember the formula and you won't be taken in by these emotionally and scientifically retarded articles again. Accuse you of doing something wrong and they call you stupid. If it does that then it's only aiming to make the discussion responders feel emotional and feel the need to explain themselves. They KNOW already that you're going to disagree with the article content!!!

Dec 16, 2013 7:10PM
Weeds, Breaking Bad, Battle star galactica, (newest and oldest versions) Sons of Anarchy. Futurama, etc. ROCKS...
Dec 17, 2013 11:27AM

binge viewing is little different from reading a book all day. 


it's just that TV viewing never offered the oportuntity to continue with a story line like netflix allows it to be presented. 

Dec 17, 2013 9:42AM
It's great being able to choose what you want to watch rather than having some network dictate some lousy show at a certain time.  Netflix is well worth the investment, and I enjoy always having something to put on when DirecTV is showing nothing on its 350 channels.  It's nice being able to watch as much 24 as you want not having to wait weeks between episodes, or to pick which episode of a show you want.  I'm not addicted or spend hours on the sofa, but when it comes to entertainment on TV, Netflix is great.
Dec 17, 2013 8:12AM
I have been a netflix subscriber for 4 years and hulu + since it started and for the last year Amazon, and Vudu and Crackle, I cut the pay Cable and Satellite subscriptions 3 years ago my monthly tv bill is now 16. dollars and can stream watch tv thru my 6  Roku boxes my 3 laptops, my 3 tablets and 2 smart tv's anywhere and everywhere I feel like it. and we binge watch almost every week-end. me and my wife are currently watching 9 different shows a week.(heroes, Arrested Development, Leverage, Mis-Fits, The wrong Man's, The Exes, Hot in Cleveland, The Guardian and Downtown Abby. and we love it
Dec 17, 2013 1:37PM
...down with cable...thumbs up for Netflix...
Dec 17, 2013 1:21PM
I don't have time to watch t.v. during the week, so I binge watch my shows on the weekends when nothing else is on. I don't think 6 hours of t.v. a week is that excessive, personally.
Dec 17, 2013 11:13AM
I recently had foot surgery and was laid up for 3 weeks. Thank goodness for Netflix!  I can watch series I didn't see the first time around. For example,  I'm on Season 6 of  Law and Order. There are a total of 181 episodes to watch.  When the show was first-run, I'd seen an episode or two.  I also find streaming is a good way to start watching television shows that are current run but I hadn't watched. Revenge and Scandal are two examples.  And to watch these shows WITHOUT commercial interruption is an extra bonus.
Dec 17, 2013 11:49AM

Seems strange to call this "binge viewing"....

Way back in the day...Without commercial interruption.

We could go to a "double feature", see the News trailers, 2 Cartoons and coming events(movies).

Kept us busy on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Watching 3 episodes of anything, on disk or tape, only takes the time to watch 2 of regular programing....And you have a continuing story line also..."Binge", I think not..?

Dec 17, 2013 11:14AM
Take a survey of the binge watching of news channels per week. Everyone in the nation divided against itself watch the news stations which mirror their opinions. News has become entertainment. Investigative journalism is a thing of the past. Our divided nation has gridlocked govt. Also the the CEO's of  time warner cable you are stiing on a gold mine. Stream turner classic movie library for a flat monthly rate.You will make a killing in the market.
Dec 17, 2013 1:34PM
I'm also a Netflix subscriber and I've engaged in binge-viewing off and on for a few years now. I'm on the one DVD-at-a-time plan, so the most episodes I can see at one time is 4, but that's usually all I have time for anyway. I've seen Kojak, Rockford Files, Rhoda, Police Woman, Miami Vice, Mary Tyler Moore, Hawaii Five-0 and others.

But I also DVR three or four episodes of Perry Mason (the old TV series), then binge-view 'em all in one afternoon while I sew. Yes, I have to ff through commercials, but I don't mind. With a few exceptions, the old stuff is far better than most current garbage.
Dec 17, 2013 10:58AM
I find this interesting... meaning for years now if I sat in front of my tv and watched tv for hours upon hours, there where still those that complained that I watched to much tv, but it was never news worthy, however now if I sit in front of my TV and watch a marathon of one TV show its now news worthy and get a Label... Really?..? the other thing I find funny is if I spent that same time sitting around reading books would that be ok, until Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the library noticed I was reading an entire series over the course of however it would take me to read it, would than get a fancy label "Binge Reading" and become news worthy? We could go on and on with this about any activitity, does it really make it news worthy and in need of a label?
Dec 17, 2013 12:00PM

Having the TV on for 6-7 hours is just companionship...

Or as a useful tool to lull us off to sleep at night on the couches...NBFD. 

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