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Binge viewing growing in the US

MUMBAI: The new face of binge viewing is wearing a smile. According to the newly released GfK MRI research, binge viewing is more than mainstream; it is prevalent, with almost 6 in 10 (57 per cent) TV viewers 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 per cent “usually – binge all or most of the time”
  • · 18 per cent “frequently – binge more than half the time”
  • · 25 per cent “sometimes – binge about half the time”

Asked to think up a new term for their behaviour, regular bingers playfully gravitate to the term extreme viewing – and overall, 73 per cent of regular bingers report having a positive view of their binge viewing habits. Two out of three (77 per cent) say it is “so fun to binge watch, I have a hard time stopping,” and roughly half (48 per cent) feel that binge viewing keeps them “up to date/in the know.”

Four in ten (41 per cent) regular bingers report that TV shows they have never seen occupy most of their binge viewing time, compared to 35 per cent for “old favourite” programmes. Only 22 per cent say that original shows from streaming services take up the majority of their binge hours.

Millennials are among the most prolific bingers, with 53 per cent 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 per cent, index of 152) and that binge viewing makes them feel more connected to the shows they watch (32 per cent, index of 143).

Not surprisingly, streaming services are the main conduits for binge viewing; two-thirds (66%) of regular bingers say streaming is the binge viewing option they use most (up from 58% 10 months ago). And Millennials who binge regularly, 81 per cent binge through streaming services.

About one in four (22 per cent) regular bingers say that DVRs are their main source of regular binge viewing, and one in five (19%) rely on traditional TV marathons.

“Binge viewing used to have negative connotations in viewers’ minds. 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,” said senior VP, Consumer Insights of GfK MRI’s special research on TV viewing Karen Ramspacher

The number one 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 per cent more likely, for example, to binge because they are addicted to a show.