Does Netflix encourage binge watching?

Posted by David Konow

Here’s a funny new term that’s probably new to the vernacular: Binge watching. That’s pretty much what we geeks do anyways. Pile up a bunch of our favorite movies and TV shows, and have endless marathons at home.

And when you’ve got the right TV show, you can go through a full season box set in several days. 

Now with the Netflix show House of Cards, the company is hoping that binge watching will make the show a hit.

As The Daily Beast tells us, ‘Flix has put out all 13 episodes of the show at once, and as Jace Lacob writes, it could be “a new narrative format for television.” On the other hand, it “could backfire” as well.

 
Thanks to the wonders of TiVo, a lot of people can stack up their favorite shows and binge watch them, and downloading shows when you want to has done wonders for the ratings for certain show, like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

So apparently, from doing research, it’s been discovered that “binge watching" is really popular these days, and Netflix doesn’t have to dole out shows one episode at a time because they don’t have advertisers to deal with, and they don’t have to compete with the major networks for ratings. 

 
It’s also a big plus to viewers in that they’re in control of the show. The showrunner of House Cards compared it to reading a novel where you can go through it in a day, or take however long you want to dive into it and enjoy. 
 
Of course, instant gratification has its problems too, especially if you run through the series too fast. As the Beast wondered, "Should we be approaching television as one would a bag of potato chips? Is there something to be said for waiting patiently until the next meal?"
 
Then again, a lot of viewers stack up shows like this at home, and go through TV seasons over a short period of time, much like Netflix is setting up House of Cards for viewers. It’s an interesting experiment, and it may just be paying off.

Indeed, Wired took a poll on the show, and they reported, "Not only was watching all 13 episodes of the series (within days of their release) the most popular response, it was more than three times more popular than the next most frequent choice: watching the premiere alone." 

 
CNN also headlined its report, “Binge-watching makes TV better,” and as Aaron Riccio writes, “The shift from casual couch-surfing to brisk binging also encourages television to be bolder in its storytelling, to develop characters and setting as opposed to just plots…Producing for the binger might also ease the stress of syndication…Wouldn’t advertising targeted at the people who would raptly sit through 10 hours of Battlestar Galactica be more effective than scatter-shot rounds of the generic stuff?”