“Binging” on television shows is characteristic of the new generation of television viewers.
Have you watched six hours in a row of your favorite television show recently? Don’t feel guilty — you’re not alone.
As streaming services such as Netflix have become more popular, viewers across the world have increasingly engaged in “binge watching” television shows; that is, watching multiple episodes in a row on the same day. In keeping with the trend, Netflix recently rolled out its own original series, House of Cards. Instead of following the trend of TV networks, which generally release episodes one week at a time, Netflix chose to release all 13 episodes at once.
Binging on television shows is characteristic of the new generation of television viewers, said Andrew Goldman, adjunct professor at the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at New York University and vice president of program planning and scheduling at HBO/Cinemax. Netflix is now used in 25% of U.S. homes.
“It’s given people a way to catch up on shows that have been going on for two or three years, shows they might not have tried to watch otherwise,” Goldman said.
He cites the example of Arrested Development, a show that has been off the air for about seven years, which will be back with a new season in May, in large part to its Netflix popularity. In fact, Netflix will release all 14 new episodes on one day.
Goldman also says that college students are more likely to binge watch than adults because they are not set to regular schedules or busy spending time with spouses or children.
Lindsey Follis, a junior at the University of Tennessee, uses Netflix almost every other day. She also enjoys watching multiple episodes of her favorite shows at once.
“I enjoy this because I can watch a show without commercials and move right on to the next episode that I would usually be waiting in suspense for for another week,” Follis said. “I probably watched a good six or seven episodes in a row of Gossip Girl at one point.”
Annie Chestnut, a senior at Wheaton College, agrees.
“Some shows are addicting,” she said. “All the episodes are accessible — why wait to watch the next episode?”
However, Netflix may not be able to turn the binge watching trend into profitability for its original content, especially amongst college students who already have favorite television series and who might not pay to watch them.
“What’s to stop people from just signing up for Netflix for a month, watching all the episodes of House of Cards all at once, and then not signing up again?” asks Goldman.
For now, students are still watching Netflix, but House of Cards might not be on their agenda. Follis and Chestnut had never even heard of the show.
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