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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 between 2-3 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting."[1] Researchers have argued that binge-watching should be defined based on the context and the actual content of TV show.[2]

Binge-watching as an observed cultural phenomenon has become popular with the rise of video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu through which the viewer can watch television shows and movies on-demand.[3][4][5] For example, 61% of the Netflix survey participants said they binge-watch regularly.[1] Recent research based on video-on-demand data from major US video streaming providers shows that over 64% of the customers binged-watched once during a year.[2]


The word's usage was popularized with the advent of on-demand viewing and online streaming. In 2013, the word burst into mainstream use to describe the Netflix practice of releasing seasons of its original programs simultaneously, as opposed to the industry standard model of releasing episodes on a weekly basis.[6][5]

In November 2015, the Collins English Dictionary chose the word "binge-watch" as the word of the year.[7]

Cultural impact[edit]

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,[8] although millions still download content illegally. 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.[9]

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.[10]

Research conducted at the University of Texas at Austin found binge watching television is correlated with 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.[11]

Research published by media scholar, Dr. Anne Sweet, PhD, underlines that binge-watching is a form of compulsive consumption, similar to binge-eating, or binge-drinking, and that due to its addictive aspects, it could even represent a form of TV addiction.[12][13] These findings were problematized by Pittman and Steiner (2019), who found that "the degree to which an individual pays attention to a show may either increase or decrease subsequent regret, depending on the motivation for binge-watching."[14].

Research conducted by media scholar Dr. Emil Steiner, PhD at Rowan University isolated six motivations for binge-watching.[15] 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.[16]

Research conducted by Technicolor lab in 2016 found that a binge-watching session does increase the probability of another binge-watching session in the near future. In the meantime, the majority of people will not immediately have another binge-watching session. This indicates that binge-watching is not a consistent behavior for real-world video-on-demand consumers.[2]

Effects on sleep[edit]

A recent study linked binge-watching to a poorer sleep quality, increased insomnia and fatigue.[17][18] In fact, binge-watching could lead to an increased cognitive alertness, therefore impacting sleep.[17][18] The results showed that 98 percent of binge-watchers were more likely to have poor sleep quality, were more alert before sleep and reported more fatigue.[17] Authors also emphasize that findings have been inconsistent in sleep research regarding the negative associations between sleep and television viewing, and that it should be distinguished from binge-watching.[27][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b West, Kelly (December 13, 2013). "Unsurprising: Netflix Survey Indicates People Like To Binge-Watch TV". Cinema Blend. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Trouleau, William; Ashkan, Azin; Ding, Weicong; Eriksson, Brian (2016). Just One More: Modeling Binge Watching Behavior. Proceedings of the 22Nd ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. KDD '16. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 1215–1224. doi:10.1145/2939672.2939792. ISBN 9781450342322.
  3. ^ Poniewozik, James (July 10, 2012). "Go Ahead, Binge-Watch That TV Show". Time. Time. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  4. ^ Jurgensen, John (July 13, 2012). "Binge Viewing: TV's Lost Weekends". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 26, 2017. Using streaming and DVRs, TV viewers are increasingly gobbling up entire seasons of shows in marathon sessions
  5. ^ a b Sweet, Anne (2018). "Hooked on "Orange is the New Black" (Netflix, 2013-)? The Art of Binge-Watching, and Netflix's Addiction-Creating Production Strategies" in "Combining Aesthetic and Psychological Approaches to TV Series Addiction". Cambridge Scholars. ISBN 9781527514492.
  6. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013". OxfordWords blog. Oxford Dictionaries. November 19, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  7. ^ "Binge-watch is Collins' dictionary's Word of the Year". BBC News. November 5, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  8. ^ BBC News (August 22, 2013). "Kevin Spacey: TV audiences 'want to binge'". BBC. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  9. ^ Barton, Kristin M. (March 2, 2015). A State of Arrested Development: Critical Essays on the Innovative Television Comed. McFarland. p. 228. ISBN 9780786479917.
  10. ^ Plunkett, John; Sweney, Mark (August 26, 2013). "Kevin Spacey's MacTaggart lecture prompts defence of traditional TV". The Guardian. Guardian Media Ltd. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  11. ^ Sung, Yoon Hi; Kang, Eun. "A Bad Habit for Your Health? An Exploration of Psychological Factors for Binge-Watching Behavior". American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  12. ^ Sweet, Anne (2018). "Hooked on "Orange is the New Black" (Netflix, 2013-)? The Art of Binge-Watching, and Netflix's Addiction-Creating Production Strategies" in "Combining Aesthetic and Psychological Approaches to TV Series Addiction". Cambridge Scholars. ISBN 9781527514492.
  13. ^ Sweet, Anne (2017). "Dependence in / on TV series II (Séries et dépendance: Dépendance aux séries II)". InMedia. 6.
  14. ^ Pittman, Matthew; Steiner, Emil (2019). "Transportation or Narrative Completion? Attentiveness during Binge-Watching Moderates Regret". Social Sciences. 8 (3): 99. doi:10.3390/socsci8030099.
  15. ^ Steiner, Emil; Xu, Kun (2018). "Binge-watching motivates change: Uses and gratifications of streaming video viewers challenge traditional TV research". Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies: 135485651775036. doi:10.1177/1354856517750365.
  16. ^ Baker, Brandon. "Infrequently Asked Questions: Why do we binge-watch?". Philly Voice. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d Exelmans L, Van den Bulck J. (2017). Binge viewing, sleep, and the role of pre-sleep arousal. J Clin Sleep Med. 13(8):1001–1008.
  18. ^ a b Binge-watching television associated with poor sleep in young adults. (2017, August 14). Retrieved from

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