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Netflix Survey: Binge-Watching Is Not Weird or Unusual

Poll of online TV watchers finds 61% watch 2-3 episodes in one sitting at least every few weeks

Netflix says there’s no shame in bingeing on TV episodes — lots of regular folks do it, at least in smallish doses.

The Internet-video subscription company released results of a survey it commissioned that found 61% of those who watch TV shows online engage in binge-watching 2-3 episodes at least every few weeks.

That’s a pretty loose definition of binge-viewing, to be sure. Full-season gorging is less common: According to Netflix, of those who watched a full season within 30 days, 25% completed watching a 13-episode series in two days. Meanwhile, 73% of TV streamers said they have “positive feelings” about the habit.

Netflix’s point with the survey is to back up its model of releasing every episode at the same time — which runs counter to the TV biz’s practice of spacing out eps weekly to generate interest in a series. According to Netflix, the trend is something most people do, not some kind of fringe activity engaged in by hard-core, Diet Coke-slurping, pajama-clad freaks.

SEE ALSO: Why Everything You Know About Binge-Viewing Is Wrong

“Netflix has pioneered audience choice in programming and has helped free consumers from the limitations of linear television,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos boasted in announcing the survey results. “Our own original series are created for multi-episodic viewing, lining up the content with new norms of viewer control for the first time.”

Of course, Netflix didn’t actually invent the concept of consuming multiple episodes without pause. Television nuts were doing that years before “House of Cards” was a twinkle in Sarandos’ eye, through full-season releases of TV shows on DVD and via digital on-demand services.

And Netflix is deviating from the much-heralded binge strategy with “Turbo FAST” from DreamWorks Animation: Only the first five episodes (of 26 total) of the kids’ show about racing snails will be made available Dec. 24. Netflix says that’s an exception to the rule, gated by production capacity of DWA.

SEE ALSO: Why Binge Watch When There’s Tantric TV?

Interestingly, the binge-viewing Netflix encourages has led it to change its accounting method for spending on original series. Starting in the third quarter of 2013, the company is allocating a bigger chunk of originals costs in the first months of release (instead of straight-line accounting over the lifetime of the titles).

In the Netflix survey, 73% of those who watch TV shows online defined binge watching as watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting. While 38% of that group said they prefer to binge on a series alone, 51% like to watch with at least one other person; the remaining 11% said they don’t binge-watch.

Harris Interactive conducted the online survey on behalf of Netflix between Nov. 25 and 27, 2013, among 3,078 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Of those 1,496 said they stream TV shows at least once per week.

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