Online TV shows reduce weekly views, encourages viewer binging

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An average Saturday afternoon spent at home flipping through the channels can prove deadly to your productivity. If, for example, you notice that HBO is airing a marathon of “Game of Thrones,”  you might decide to check out the hype and waste your weekend away while catching up with the current season.

This is binge-watching, and it means exactly what its name implies — the act of watching a season of a show straight through instead of waiting for weekly episodes.

With more TV shows becoming available online via services like Netflix and HBO Go, there has been a greater rise in binge-watching than ever before, particularly with such high-quality shows available. It is now easier to indulge in critically acclaimed shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Lost.”

This method of viewing television has its pros and cons, but according to a MarketCast report published last week, the pros of binge-watching outweigh the cons.

Binge-watching the first season or the first few seasons of a show can turn viewers into enthusiasts, making them more likely to stick around for upcoming seasons and rewatch episodes of the show even when they air randomly.

MarketCast’s Chris Rethore says that bingers demonstrate a “consistently higher interest in watching new episodes as they air” than viewers who do not binge, making TV bingers an important part of any show’s fan base.

Not only does the instant gratification of binge-watching make the traditional week-to-week schedule obsolete, the method provides viewers with an entire season that gives them a complete, overarching storyline.  Additionally, the report found that binge-watching can hook viewers into the next season of a show and compel them to recommend the show to their friends.

However, binge-watching is not without its downsides. With traditional week-to-week viewing, an episode can simmer in a viewer’s head for longer while giving them a whole week to think about what they’ve just seen. From this perspective, binging does not allow much time for reflection.

Additionally, once binge-watching begins, many viewers can’t stop until they finish the entire series. When sitting down to watch the beginning of a show’s marathon, many people probably believe that they will just watch an episode or two. But when the show turns out to be incredible it can become difficult to peel their eyes away from the television.

Binging on one’s new favorite television show can present its share of problems, but as long as viewers use their time wisely and as long as it helps a show’s survival, a little bit of binge-watching never hurt anybody.

A version of this article was published in the Tuesday, March 12 print edition. Laura Wolford is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]

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