Binge Viewing Becoming the New Normal

July 19, 2016
According to GfK, binge viewing is more than mainstream; it is prevalent, with 57% TV viewers surveyed saying they have regularly watched ...

According to GfK, binge viewing is more than mainstream; it is prevalent, with 57% TV viewers surveyed saying they have regularly watched three or more episodes of the same show in one sitting - whether that be via streaming, DVR, VOD or TV marathons.

Regular binge viewing includes:

  • 14% "usually - binge all or most of the time"
  • 18% "frequently - binge more than half the time"
  • 25% "sometimes - binge about half the time"

Overall, 73% of regular bingers report having a positive view of their binge viewing habits. Some 77% say it is "so fun to binge watch, I have a hard time stopping," and 48% feel that binge viewing keeps them "up to date/in the know."

Some 41% of regular bingers report that TV shows they have never seen occupy most of their binge viewing time, compared to 35% for "old favorite" programs. Only 22% say that original shows from streaming services take up the majority of their binge hours.

Millennials are among the most prolific bingers, with 53% saying that they are regular bingers - binge viewing more than half the time they watch TV. Millennials are more likely than average viewers to say that live TV has become more of a special event for them (16%) and that binge viewing makes them feel more connected to the shows they watch (32%).

Streaming services are the main conduits for binge viewing; 66% of regular bingers say streaming is the binge viewing option they use most (up from 58% 10 months ago). And of Millennials who binge regularly, 81% binge through streaming services.

Some 22% of regular bingers say DVRs are their main source of regular binge viewing, and 19% rely on traditional TV marathons.

"Binge viewing used to have negative connotations in viewers' minds," said Karen Ramspacher, SVP, Consumer Insights of GfK. "But as it expands further into the mainstream, people are excited to embrace the behavior. From DVD box sets to DVRs to cable 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. Programming for bingers, and figuring out how to advertise to them more effectively, are key challenges for programmers and networks alike."

The No. 1 reason people binge is that they have free time, but other top motivations include catching up on shows currently airing and inability to stop watching because the viewer is hooked. Millennials over-index on most of the reasons; they are 41% more likely, for example, to binge because they are addicted to a show.

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