Commentary

Study Shows Binge-ing Is The New Normal

A new study from the TiVo Research Group confirms what I've long suspected: Binge-watching is the way a vast majority of viewers want to consume quality programming. Ninety percent of us binge, according to TiVo, and it's not just a sometime thing. We're no longer just binge-happy in the fallow times, like now during the dog days of summer when there's no fresh episodes of  “Game of Thrones” or “Walking Dead.”  As DocumentaryTelevision.com publisher Peter Hamilton noted after perusing the TiVo survey: “Binge-ing is the new normal.”

This is  great news for producers of serial dramas and the viewers that love them. According to the TiVo survey, that's the preferred genre for us bingers.  Can you say “House of Cards”?  We bingers like  comedies, too -- just not quite as much.  The “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which debuted shortly before the TiVo survey was taken, proved to be a favorite among bingers, who do the majority of their marathon viewing via Netflix and Amazon Prime -- as opposed to video-on-demand from cable, satellite and telco providers, downloads from the iTunes store, or DVD box sets bought at big-box stores.  Moreover, bingers want the instant gratification Netflix is offering by releasing a series all at once -- a tactic slowly being adopted by the competition.

For some bingers, delayed gratification is the only satisfying choice when a series is dealt one episode at a time. The TiVo research suggests a growing number of us -- nearly a third of those surveyed -- will wait for a series to complete its run so we can have the novel reader's satisfaction of digesting multiple chapters in a sitting.  Showtime may dribble out weekly doses of “Ray Donovan” or CBS “The Good Wife,” but a significant number of us prefer to wait till season end to dive in, via our TiVo or other  DVR.

Generation Binge may be a boon for quality drama, but it's a serious concern for traditional networks.  The TiVo study defines a binge as watching at least three episodes of a series in a single day.  Once we are in the Netflix or Amazon wheelhouse,  that's the TV ecosystem we're living in, increasingly less likely to  dive back into Networkland. Keeping us there are those algorithms harnessed to promoting similar fare we might want to devour after finishing season 3 of “Orange is the New Black.”  

Still, traditional networks can successfully lure the binge generation.  The TiVo survey shows binge-ing spikes when a USA Network runs a “Modern Family” marathon -- or  when BBC America does the same with  a cult hit like “Dr. Who.”  Binge-ing spikes on holiday weekends, too, akin to what happens when Netflix releases a full season of one of its hits.  

Binge Nation does not bode well for reality TV.  We rarely watch multiple episodes of competition shows like  “The Voice” or “The Bachelor.”  Reality series, whether it's “Pawn Stars” or “Real Housewives,”  may do well in the Nielsens and draw significant advertising revenue, but they don't make it the same way with bingers.  When it comes to generation binge,  “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is passé. If it rains this weekend, I think I'll get caught up with a half a dozen episodes of “Transparent”  instead.

13 comments about "Study Shows Binge-ing Is The New Normal".
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  1. Steve Baldwin from Didit, July 15, 2015 at 12:03 p.m.

    While Microsoft will be happy that people are Binging, I think you mean Bingeing.

  2. Walter Sabo from SABO media, July 15, 2015 at 12:12 p.m.

    I binge watch TMZ. I wish I could have binged LOST

  3. T O'leary from videoADvance, July 15, 2015 at 12:18 p.m.

    "...do the majority of their marathon viewing via Netflix and Amazon Prime -- as opposed to video-on-demand from cable, satellite and telco providers..."  

    The reason for this comes down to simple UX.  Netflix starts a countdown to the next episode during the credits of the episode that just concluded.  For cable VOD (Comcast for me), I need to navigate through 3... or 4 or 5 menus and multiple pages of results just to get back to the list of episodes of the show.  If cable VOD wants to encourage binge-watching, they need to encourage it by reducing the friction in the interface.

  4. Chris Pizzurro from Canoe, July 15, 2015 at 12:22 p.m.

    Great thoughts J. Max. Another concern is in advertising (which of course is not a concern to Netflix (yet) ). To the ad community, TV is first reach, then cheap frequency. All out bindge could produce more frequncy than reach if not planned for correctly. I am happy to say that cable VOD D4+ DAI  (I bet not included in Tivo research) has tons of view and very little bindge (1.5 episodes per session, as captured by Canoe data), so organically holds to TV's reach promise.

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 15, 2015 at 12:52 p.m.

    "Binge Nation"? based on this kind of research? TiVo has a panel that records set usage electronically, right? How much of the average TiVo  home's weekly set usage is attained by binge viewing"? Is it 5% or 10% or what? The fact that 90% of the people polled in a study say that they "binge"---per day?; per Week?;per month?; ever?----doesn't really tell us all that much and to use such a finding to contend that binge viewing is the new TV norm is a really big stretch?

  6. Kern Lewis from GrowthFocus, Inc., July 15, 2015 at 2:01 p.m.

    Mr. Baldwin beat me to it. "Binging" would indeed be the MS version of "googling." Bingeing on TV content does need the "e"!

  7. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, July 15, 2015 at 10:09 p.m.

    Max,

    You and TiVo have an obligation to produce the evidence for the irresponsible and outrageous generalizations you prresent as some form of news. I shall prepare the lecture on logical fallacies shortly. In the meantime, MediaPost readers must be shown the data and the methodology for  the reported findings that are obviously fallacious and impossible. 

    If the appropriate substantiation is not shown with reasonable promptness, I shall politely request that MediaPost remove this example of bogus blogging.  If it is not corrected, I shall make my request and rationale known well beyond the MediaPost Community. The Publisher and Editor know how I can be reached.
     
    While I am pleased that Ed Papazian commented before I read this treacle, I am afraid that he will persist in being more tolerant than I am because he has seen worse. But I must say, this piece of coal is no gem and is a MediaPost low for sure. Just because your Commentary is entitled "TVEVERYWHERE" does not give you the freedom to expose trusting readers to gross generalizations and elicit exaggerations that they would never expect from this Publication. 

    Provide the evidence. Rewrite the absurd piece with proper, intelligent context and valid, reliable statistical estimates of “normal” behavior.  And learn how not to be a data sucker.  Ignorance and stupidity are the only things your readers on “Binge-ing” on, if they read the latest edition of your “TVOURAGEOUS” screed.
     
    In sum, profound disappointment and real disgust is only the tip of the iceberg I bring to your Titanic journalistic blunder. 

    Sincerely,


    Nicholas
    Nicholas P. Schiavone

  8. J. Max Robins from Center for Communication, July 16, 2015 at 11:02 a.m.

    In response to your observation Ed, the TiVo study showed that almost two-thirds of those who opted into the survey had binge-watched at least once a month or more.  I'd contend that that denotes a fundamental way in which the audience consumes programming.  

  9. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 16, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

    Max, I'm sorry but the figure you cited doesn't come even close to describing the actual vilumetrics of "binge viewing". Indeed, if it is accurate---always dubious in polls like this---it suggests a once in a while activity by some, not a nationwide adoption of this type of viewing in preference to "normal" one episode at a time consumption. If "Binge viewing was swhat you described, two thirds of the population should be doing it almost every day, not at least once a month.

  10. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, July 16, 2015 at 6:46 p.m.

    Max,

    Thank you for responding to Ed Papazian.
    I demonstrates that you read his comments and probably read mine.

    Your failure to address publicly the concerns I raised on July 15 suggest
    things about you and this publication that I shall not articulate aloud.
    I shall be in touch with the Editor in Chief of MediaPost Publications and the Publisher.

    In my estimation, you have gone from being forgiveably unsophisticated
    in matters of media and statistical research to being an irresponsible and careless journalist.

    It's not just a matter of bad numbers.  It's a matter of bad thinking, poor ideas and foolish, false and misleading words.  It's a serious disservice to all MediaPost Publication readers.

    It occurs to me that the "Columbia Journalism Review" could use this article as
    an illustration of what happens when a reporter is working out of his depth.

    Sincerely,
    Nicholas

    Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC


  11. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, July 16, 2015 at 7:02 p.m.

    Max,

    You must really be important or untouchable as your e-mail address isn't even listed among the editorial contacts of MediaPost at the only link to you that you or MediaPost provides:
     Contact MediaPost Editorial

    Well, it figures.  Wait, nothing figures with you ... at least mathematically.


    Nick

  12. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 16, 2015 at 7:21 p.m.

    Another typo---curses. I meant "volumetrics" in my last post.

  13. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, July 16, 2015 at 8 p.m.

    Another typo---curses. I meant "It" in the second line of my second to last post. NPS

    Ed,

    I appreciate your good example, but J. Max Robins' piece "TVEVERYWHERE" is negligence, perhaps gross negligence, for the field of journalism.

    Then again, maybe his standards would serve the National Enquirer.  

    "Enquiring minds want to know."

    Nick

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