Let The Binge Begin

By: Dallas J. Short

The third season of Orange is the New Black was set to be released on Friday, June 12th but it actually came out early on the 11th. So yes, I watched four episodes Thursday night (sorry NBA Finals, I had you on my phone,) and an episode Friday morning. 5 down, 8 to go. While I had already planned on plowing through the Netflix original this weekend, I might now have time to actually do other things and be productive (or finish my binge through Sense8).

Binge-watching, also called binge-viewing, is the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, usually of a single television show.

Netflix went through Harris Interactive to conduct this survey online, sticking to people in the U.S. surveyed in late November (2013). 3,078 adults aged 18 and older, of whom 1,496 stream TV shows at least once a week. Here’s a summary of some of the findings:

  • Binge watching isn’t an emerging trend or behavior: it’s mainstream and the new normal. 61% binge watch regularly. (2-3 episodes of a single TV series in one setting).
  • 73% viewed binge watching as positive.
  • Dispelling conventional wisdom–binge watching is actually moderate behavior (avg of 2.3 episodes/sitting). And it’s consistent across demographics—though 18-34 binge watches slightly more.
  • Viewers see binge watching as engaging and immersive, and TV improving in quality–2/3 say there is simply too much good TV to watch. Quite the evolution from a few decades ago when the then FCC Chairman called TV “A vast wasteland”.
  • 76% of TV streamers said watching several episodes at a time as a welcome refuge from the busy world we live in.
  • In a highly fragmented 140 character 24/7 world, viewers are seeking out longer form, complex storytelling.
  • The experience is better: 79% say binge watching makes the actual show better.

Since Netflix users have increased in the past two years and the amount of binge-worthy shows is currently at an all-time high (and only increasing), those previous stats could be a lot higher now.

There are some who advise against binge-watching and say it does not allow you to fully appreciate, interpret and process the show. I would disagree, but then again, I grew up rapidly flipping through Choose Your Own Adventure books trying to figure out the best ending.

Netflix is testing with the one episode per week original “Between,” and while it is a decent show – I don’t think it grips you the way most of their other original shows do, where you need to know what’s next or what’s going on with the characters.

I do not believe House Of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Daredevil, etc. need to be binge-watched because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), I think you binge because you develop a connection to the people involved through very well written scripts, settings and interactions.

Another reason to binge is because these shows do mean something to people and they are part of a cultural phenomenon. If you try to space them out, you also risk spoiler alerts from social media, work place, news and people in general.

I binged through all of Breaking Bad in two weeks, right before the final season air. I do consider one of my favorite shows, but not sure I could have loved that show as much on a week by week basis for the first couple of seasons. There are other series where people tell you “you just have to give it time.” Binge-watching allows you to digest the average appetizer episodes quicker, so you can get to the real meat and potatoes of it all.

In no order, (kind of one of those “I love all my children the same” lines). Here are 15 shows I have really enjoyed binging on Netflix. I could probably rattle off another 10-20 more after this too.

  • House of Cards
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Daredevil
  • Breaking Bad
  • New Girl
  • Brothers & Sisters
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Luther
  • Arrow
  • The Following
  • Archer
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • The Black Donnellys
  • Mad Men
  • Freaks & Geeks

How about you? Are you a binge-watcher? Do you have a favorite? Are you going to be like me and beast through Orange is the New Black this weekend?

As always, if you like what you read, please be social, share and no no no spoiler alerts.

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