Why Do We Binge-Watch?

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.

are you still watching?

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?


10 thoughts on “Why Do We Binge-Watch?

  1. Interesting post, I enjoy bingewatching when I am watching old TV shows but when Netflix releases something I have to quickly watch it all so it isn’t spoiled

    1. I definitely understand what you mean with the pressure that comes with Netflix releases, it has made bingewatching into a forced activity in a way. I usually have to avoid the internet for the whole weekend.

  2. My previously short attention span had me exclusively watching shows with durations of a half hour or less, and whose episode plots were self-contained and therefore didn’t need an extensive knowledge of what happened before. Then Breaking Bad came along. Now I can’t recall what was so appealing about all the silly one-off cartoon and/or sitcom stuff I used to watch before that colossus of a show smacked some taste into me.

    1. I was like that as well with random episodes of The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother on TV. It’s a much better experience engaging with a series with various interweaving plot lines. Breaking Bad is a great watch, especially the depth and evolution of the many characters.

  3. The saddest thing about binge watching is that everything ends too quickly and I think that globally we are developing into a culture that requires instant gratification in all aspects of life. No one really has any patience anymore. I really enjoy the build-up to a pending episode and often indulging in some TV can be a reward or a means of relaxation. If you’ve seen it all already, what’s left?

    1. Instead of seeing it as something that will eventually end, I view it as dedicating my time and attention to a specific series on a set of characters and their stories. I usually fill the emptiness of finishing a series by starting another one, or by rewatching it again at a later date.

  4. i definitely agree with the point that bingewatching gives me a sense of satisfaction because i can complete a tv show in a week and although some would say that rushes the experience it makes the tv show even more enjoyable as it gets my complete attention

    1. I’m definitely the same. Through binge-watching I enjoy the series more because I am more familiar with the content. Whereas when watching something weekly I tend to forget certain aspects that can be relevant later.

  5. I only bingewatch completed tv shows because with shows that are currently on air I have to watch it as it is released otherwise it gets spoiled… Damn you internet!!

    1. Binge-watching a completed series is quite relaxing compared to TV shows still on air. I was ready to give up on The Vampire Diaries, but as the series finale was approaching I had to follow the weekly release of episodes so that the highly anticipated finale wasn’t spoiled. It was not worth it, to be honest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s