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Binge-viewing is now prevalent

News, 20 July 2016

NEW YORK: Binge viewing is more than mainstream, new research suggests – it has become prevalent, with almost 6 in 10 TV viewers saying they have regularly watched three or more episodes of the same show in one sitting.

According to data from research firm GfK MRI, that figure applied across all possible methods of viewing – whether streaming, DVR, VOD or TV marathons.

A quarter of viewers claimed to binge about half the time ("sometimes"), while 18% said they do so more than half the time ("frequently"), while 18% indulged in this activity most of the time ("usually").

Despite the Netflix fanfare of making entire original series available to view immediately, only 22% of viewers indicated that such shows from streaming services took up the majority of their binge hours.

Four in ten (41%) regular bingers said that TV shows they had never seen occupied most of their binge viewing time, compared to 35% for "old favourites".

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And there's no sense of guilt about the practice: almost three quarters (73%) of regular bingers had a positive view of their viewing habits. And roughly half (48%) said that binge viewing kept them "up to date/in the know".

Millennials were among the most prolific bingers; just over half (53%) said they binge-viewed more than half the time they watch TV.

This group was also more likely than average viewers to say that live TV has become more of a special event for them (16%, index of 152) and that binge viewing makes them feel more connected to the shows they watch (32%, index of 143).

Streaming services were, unsurprisingly, the main conduits for binge viewing, with two-thirds (66%) of regular bingers favouring this option.

About one in five (22%) regular bingers used DVRs as their main source of regular binge viewing, while slightly fewer (19%) continued to rely on traditional TV marathons.

"Binge viewing has been enabled by a host of video platforms and packages, but streaming services have taken this habit to new levels," noted Karen Ramspacher, SVP, Consumer Insights of GfK MRI's special research on TV viewing.

"Programming for bingers, and figuring out how to advertise to them more effectively, are key challenges for programmers and networks alike," she added.

Data sourced from GfK MRI; additional content by Warc staff