Binge-Watching Is Our New Normal
Hail to the sweet, sweet release of the television binge, whereupon the cares and the worries of the day melt away as you consume episode after episode of your favorite show.
The fact that binge watching has become a common practice isn't new, but a recent survey of TiVo users suggests that the trend is continuing to gain steam while shedding its associations of shame. Out of the survey's 12,448 participants, only 30 percent said they saw the activity in a "negative" light, a notable drop from the 53 percent who responded the same way in 2013.
That may be because binge watching has become a national pastime. Everyone seems to be doing it. Ninety-two percent of survey respondents said they have engaged in some form of binge-viewing behavior, which the survey defines as watching three or more episodes of the same show in one day or watching one or more entire seasons over multiple days or weeks. (While TiVo users – who are able to record live shows –may be more likely to partake than the average American, a 2013 survey by Netflix found that 61 percent of respondents who watch TV shows online were regular binge watchers.)
Like most excesses, however, the practice is at once delectable and unpredictable, able to morph – in a flash -- from pure enjoyment into cloying guilt, perhaps the byproduct of all those hours spent consuming storylines about fictitious lives instead of living one's own.
Out of TiVo respondents, only 16 percent viewed binge-watching in a "positive" light (up from 11 percent in 2013), and respondents coughed up to forgoing important activities such as sleep (31 percent) and in extreme cases, all other weekend activities (37 percent).
In spite of the fact that less than a third of respondents viewed binge-watching negatively, 52 percent said they felt sad after binging on a series.
It's a statistic that directly relates to another recent study, this one from the University of Texas at Austin, which found that depressed and lonely people are more likely to regularly binge-watch than their emotionally healthy counterparts.
While that study didn't fully tease apart why this relationship exists (are lonely, depressed people attracted to mainlining TV content, or do they become that way after binge-watching?) the latest TiVo study contains this potentially illuminating nugget: Approximately half of respondents who said they binge-watched a show or a series reported that they did so alone.