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Binge Racing: ‘Gilmore Girls,’ ‘Fuller House’ Are Top Netflix Series That Viewers Finish in First 24 Hours

Netflix has cooked up a new term for the internet-streaming lexicon: “binge racing.”

The internet-video streamer has studied binge-viewing behavior in past studies, a trend it happily takes credit for fueling with its strategy of releasing all episodes of a series at the same time.

But in Netflix’s newest analysis, it’s identified a class of super-fan — which it had dubbed “binge racers” — who strive to marathon through an entire season of a new show within 24 hours of its release in order to claim bragging rights.

The two most “binge-raced” original shows on Netflix are revivals: The four-part miniseries “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” and “Fuller House,” which reunites some of the cast of the original sitcom that aired from 1987-95. The third most binge-raced series is “Marvel’s The Defenders”; interestingly, independent research found “Defenders” was the least-viewed Netflix original in the first 30 days of its debut in the U.S., which suggests that while the show has seen a smaller audience it has unusually engaged fans.

Overall, 8.4 million Netflix subs have engaged in binge-racing at some point, according to company data released this week. That’s less than 8% of its total 109 million members worldwide as of the end of Q3. But the trend is on the rise, the company says: The behavior has grown from 200,000 members in 2013 to more than 5 million through September 2017.

Why is Netflix trying to spotlight “binge racing,” which is admittedly a fringe activity? Mainly, it’s using the data-crunching team as a PR effort to highlight the original TV series available exclusively on its platform. Note that it didn’t include any licensed second-window shows — like AMC’s “The Walking Dead” — in the study.

But there’s a less obvious goal at work. Critics charge that Netflix’s binge-release strategy, which bucks the decades-old weekly episodic drip of the television biz, blunts the potential social-media impact of a show building in a slow burn to its season conclusion. To that, Netflix says: pshaw. Its customers love being able to watch all episodes immediately, on their own schedule. And the findings about ultra-marathoners who “binge race” — which isn’t even possible with traditional TV in-season — serve to underscore that point with an exclamation mark.

One caveat on Netflix’s findings: The total runtime for “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” is just over 6 hours — making it more feasible to watch in one big gulp than other shows.

Netflix acknowledged that 30-minute comedies are easier to binge-race, but it said hour-long dramas and thrillers like “Stranger Things,” “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” also have won speed-viewing fans. Netflix has even found a few super-fanatic binge racers: For example, five U.S. members have watched all five seasons of “House of Cards” in their entirety the same day they were released.

Here are Netflix’s top 20 “binge-raced” originals worldwide:

  1. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
  2. Fuller House
  3. Marvel’s The Defenders
  4. The Seven Deadly Sins
  5. The Ranch
  6. Santa Clarita Diet
  7. Trailer Park Boys
  8. F is for Family
  9. Orange Is the New Black
  10. Stranger Things
  11. Friends from College
  12. Atypical
  13. Grace and Frankie
  14. Wet Hot American Summer
  15. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  16. House of Cards
  17. Love
  18. GLOW
  19. Chewing Gum
  20. Master of None

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