FEATURE14 May 2014

Entertaining indulgence

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‘Binge viewing’ of TV shows via online streaming services has taken off massively. But is that the right term to describe this behaviour? Netflix hired Grant McCracken to find out.


Bingeing isn’t typically seen as a good thing. Excessive indulgence, particularly of food and drink, is usually frowned
upon, while medical professionals will tell you how unhealthy it is.

But ‘bingeing’ is now being used to describe an altogether different sort of behaviour – that of watching TV episodes and seasons back-to-back through online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu.

According to a survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Netflix, 61% of TV streamers admit to regular bouts of binge watching. Some even take it to an extreme level. Following the 14 February launch of the new season of House of Cards – the Netflix-produced remake of the British political drama – an estimated 2% of US subscribers had watched the entire 13-episode run in just three days, according to Procera, a broadband services and analytics company.

However, in its survey, Harris found little guilt attached to this sort of behaviour. Unlike binge eaters or drinkers, ...