Trender Research™

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How Binge Watching Affects our Relationship with Media

As an avid TV watcher, I know and understand the pains of cable TV. Shows generally air once a week, cliffhangers and teases are everywhere, and timings often conflict with our own schedules. The couch and TV is one area of my life which I do not get to go to as much as I used to, simply because of a busy schedule. Trying to balance work, school, family, and friends prevents more time to be given to casually couch crashing and TV surfing as I would when I was younger. But, like many other people, I have been given a solution to this problem; Netflix.

 As we all know, this streaming media has risen in popularity due to the efficiency of its online streaming system. I subscribed for a free month trial at the recommendation of my friend, who preached its excellence. Initially I was not impressed, but as more and more titles were offered, I slowly became addicted. On Netflix I was introduced to shows such as AMC’s Walking Dead, CW’s Arrow, and Netflix’s own House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Netflix is one step ahead of their game in that they offer entire seasons of each show. I was able to watch Walking Dead and Arrow, and caught up to the current airing season extremely quickly. You can imagine my disappointment, in going back to cable TV to watch the current season, to be subjected once again to once a week episodes, ads, and other nuisances that make cable TV difficult to watch. Sad to say, but Netflix has spoiled me into wanting to watch a whole season at once, without cliffhangers and teases. They outmatched the competition, when releasing their original series HoC and OITNB, that they put up whole seasons at once, eliminating waiting and the anxiety of needing to find out what happened but having to wait a whole week. Through this design, Netflix has given birth to the new trend of “binge watching”.

It simply means that one watches multiple episodes, if not seasons, in a short length of time. For example, yesterday I binge watched OITNB for 7 straight episodes. To put it in perspective, each episode is approximately an hour long.  Now of course, the show must be quality television. No one is going to watch garbage for 7 straight hours, especially me. Netflix has guaranteed this will not happen though, since HoC and OITNB are now critically acclaimed TV shows with a plethora of nominations. Which makes binge watching that much easier, since we are invested in the storyline that episode transitions are not a week but a five second transition as Netflix loads it up. You don’t even have to hit a button. Once an episode ends, it automatically gives a timer until transitioning into the next episode.

Binge watching has become a sort of sport, as friends compare how long it took for a certain period of time. For example, in the car the other day my friend was talking about how he completed the two seasons of OITNB in 4 days. To put it in perspective, each season contains 3 episodes, so that is 26 hours total. In 96 hours, 26 of that was in front of a screen. While we binge watch without thinking about it, it has become a widely accepted term and trend, partially thanks to Netflix. In fact, I have heard about binge parties, in which friends get together to binge watch shows while hanging out together. It has slowly spread into many aspects of our lives, and as a result Netflix is slowly but surely significantly altering how we watch and define media. 

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