(Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Engage:Hispanics on March 26, 2015.)
This past winter was brutal. With cities like Boston buried under 108 inches of record-breaking snowfall and a couple cold snaps still to come, what better way to past the time then catching up on the latest season of your favorite TV show. And the timing couldn’t be better.
We are now in one of the most prolific content years for major streaming services. Amazon, for example, recently picked up two Golden Globes for “Transparent” and Netflix just released the third season of the hit show “House of Cards.”
And while we may have cringed at the addition of yet another buzzword, turns out “binge viewing” really does exist and now describes how many Americans consume TV.
Taking a closer look at those viewers, you’ll find that one of the earliest adopters of the binge-viewing phenomenon has been U.S. Hispanics.
The New Normal?
Perhaps, but it really depends on what age group you’re looking at. Recent studies show that on average, binge viewing is clearly becoming the preferred method for watching TV shows compared to traditional methods.
The driving force? Millennials. The coveted 18 - 34-year-old segment is leading the charge. When Hispanics 18+ were asked how they preferred to watch their favorite show, 40% said “three or more episodes back to back.”
But when you look exclusively at 18 - 34 year olds, this number climbs to nearly half (48%). This is much higher compared to 35 - 65 year olds who are still more likely to prefer watching their favorite shows when they air on broadcast TV (46%).
Hispanics are also more likely to binge view compared to non-Hispanics. The majority of Hispanics reported watching an entire season of a TV show over one weekend compared to about half of non-Hispanics (60% vs. 49%). Again, this is much more common among 18 - 34 year olds (68%).
How They Watch
When asked about the way in which they watch TV, less than 40% of 18 - 34 year olds reported watching live TV (the anti-binge viewing method). They were far more likely to watch programming via Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and others when compared to 35 - 65 year olds.
Who They Watch With
The hallmark of Hispanic culture is a deep “sense of community.” And this sentiment spills over into their binge viewing behavior.
When asked, “When you watch three or more episodes of a TV show back-to-back, are you usually watching TV by yourself or with someone else?” 45% said “with someone else.”
Why Does All This Matter?
It’s simple. There is a tug of war going on right now between streaming services and traditional networks. Binge viewing has become mainstream and the desire to consume shows in rapid succession is becoming increasingly common, particularly among younger viewers.
Live TV will have to continue to up their game in order to compete with internet TV, which now offers new streaming services like YaVeo and online content like MiTu aimed at Hispanic audiences.
And networks are doing just that. Since 2013, they have been coming out with strong content aimed at Hispanic and total market audiences such as “Jane the Virgin” and major hits like “Empire” and “Blackish.”
Ultimately, the biggest winners are viewers. They are treated to great content that’s relevant to them on their own terms. Amazon, and other streaming services, are rewarded with more subscribers and market share. And advertisers? Well, the prize will go those who innovate.