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.
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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:
- Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
- Fuller House
- Marvel’s The Defenders
- The Seven Deadly Sins
- The Ranch
- Santa Clarita Diet
- Trailer Park Boys
- F is for Family
- Orange Is the New Black
- Stranger Things
- Friends from College
- Grace and Frankie
- Wet Hot American Summer
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- House of Cards
- Chewing Gum
- Master of None