Binge-Viewing Is Becoming a Less Shameful Activity: Survey

Poll of TiVo users finds drop in negative perception of watching 3 or more TV episodes in one day

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Fewer people cringe about the binge, according to a new survey.

Over the last two years, the negative perception of binge-viewing TV series — watching three or more episodes in one day — has greatly decreased, according to a March 2015 survey of TiVo users. Only 30% of respondents said they saw the activity in a negative light, compared with 53% in 2013. Overall, 92% of those surveyed said they have engaged in binge-viewing at some point.

See More: Binge-Watching TV Linked to Depression, Loneliness

“People who are binge-viewing are feeling better about themselves,” said TiVo chief research officer Jonathan Steuer, who led the study.

An earlier study commissioned by Netflix in late 2013 found that 61% of those who watch TV shows online binge-watch 2-3 episodes at least every few weeks — and 73% said they have “positive feelings” about the habit.

However, on TiVo’s most recent survey, only 16% of respondents said they viewed bingeing as “positive” (compared with 11% in 2013). And keep in mind: These are TiVo users, who for years have had the ability to store up entire seasons on their DVRs and presumably would be more inclined to engage in binge-viewing than the average consumer.

The negative association with the term is understandable, given its explicit meaning of excessive consumption — indeed, Merriam-Webster’s top definition for “binge” is “a drunken revel; spree.”

Meanwhile, a study from the University of Texas at Austin released earlier this year correlated binge-viewing with feelings of depression and loneliness. On the other hand, per TiVo’s most recent survey, 52% of respondents said they felt sad when they finished bingeing on a series; 31% said they have lost sleep due to binge-viewing, and 37% have spent a weekend watching an entire season of a show.

TiVo’s March survey found the most-binged series in that time-frame were: Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”; “Breaking Bad,” also available on Netflix; AMC’s “The Walking Dead”; and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” The survey polled 12,458 of the DVR company’s customers.

Other survey findings:

  • 32% of respondents said they put off watching an entire season of a show until they could watch the entire season at once, a slight increase from the 2014 survey;
  • 45% said they binge because they discovered a show after several episodes had already aired and they needed to catch up; and
  • 39% said they enjoy some shows more when they watch episodes back-to-back.