Binge-watching is changing the way we experience TV content and its distribution. Within this post, I will explore some of the reasons behind the act.
Binge-watching is the process of watching multiple episodes of a TV show in one sitting or within a short period of time. The act of binge-watching has always been possible through marathoning DVD box sets. However, the term caught on in 2013 when popular streaming service Netflix changed the way content was distributed by releasing an entire season of a series at once.
The standard weekly release of episodes works well as it enables viewers to spend a week reflecting upon the events that occur in the episode. For example, a drama series like How to Get Away with Murder fits the weekly release schedule because during the wait for the next episode you can theorise about the two separate timelines. Yet while binge-watching you are emotionally invested in the characters and it becomes an immersive experience.
Emil Steiner explores how and why audiences binge-watch and his findings state that there are six reasons behind this habit:
- Binge-watching enhances the viewing experience as we spend hours immersing ourselves into created worlds.
- We also gain satisfaction from a sense of completion by being able to follow through from start to finish.
- Cultural inclusion is important as we like to be part of the conversation on the latest series.
- Convenience is another aspect as content is easily accessible on demand on various devices.
- Catching up with previous seasons for a new release is another reason to binge-watch, I did this with Gilmore Girls to prepare for the revival.
- Finally, we binge-watch for relaxation and nostalgia, an aspect I have discussed in my post Why Do We Rewatch?.
But a new style of television format and distribution is emerging in Norway. As mentioned previously, Skam has created a unique experience for its audience as scenes are released every weekday as the characters experience it. For example, if a group of characters were at a gathering on a Wednesday at 8 pm, a clip would be released onto the website at that time. A fully immersive experience like Skam could change our binge-watching habits as the sporadic uploads engage the audience. In addition, as the scenes are released viewers can scroll through the characters’ social media profiles and group chat conversations.
Some people hate the idea of watching a series in a short space of time as they like to have the time to reflect upon the show. Due to the rise of streaming services, viewers now have control over when to watch episodes and the amount to watch. The term ‘binge’ is defined as an uncontrollable indulgence and it is an act I am guilty of as almost all of the TV shows I have seen were done through binge-watching sessions.
Obvious health concerns aside, what’s your view on binge-watching?