Binge-watching, also called binge-viewing or marathon-viewing, is the practice of watching television for a long time span, usually a single television show. In a survey conducted by Netflix in February 2014, 73% of people define binge-watching as "watching 4 or more episodes of the same TV show in one sitting."
Binge-watching as an observed cultural phenomenon has become popular with the rise of online media services such as Netflix, N Play, Hulu, and Amazon Video through which the viewer can watch television shows and movies on-demand. For example, 61% of the Netflix survey participants said they binge-watch regularly.
The word's usage was popularized with the advent of on-demand viewing and online streaming. In 2013, the word "exploded" into mainstream use when Netflix started releasing episodes of its serial programming simultaneously.
Actor Kevin Spacey used the 2013 MacTaggart Lecture to implore television executives to give audiences "what they want, when they want it. If they want to binge, then we should let them binge". He claimed that high-quality stories will retain audience's attention for hours on end, and may reduce piracy, although millions still download illegal content. Binge-watching "complex, quality TV" such as The Wire and Breaking Bad has been likened to reading more than one chapter of a novel in one sitting, and is viewed by some as a "smart, contemplative way" of watching TV.
ITV Director of Television Peter Fincham warned that binge-watching erodes the "social value" of television as there are fewer opportunities to anticipate future episodes and discuss them with friends.
Research conducted at the University of Texas at Austin found binge watching television is correlated to depression, loneliness, self-regulation deficiency, and obesity. "Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way," the authors conclude.
Research conducted by media scholar Emil Steiner at Temple University isolated six motivations for binge-watching. The author concludes that while compulsiveness is possible, most binge-viewers have an ambivalent relationship with the nascent techno-cultural behavior. Furthermore, he argues that the negotiation of control in binge-watching is changing our understanding of television culture.
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Using streaming and DVRs, TV viewers are increasingly gobbling up entire seasons of shows in marathon sessions
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