By Ananya Bhardwaj
The number of Netflix streaming subscribers has been constantly increasing over the years, exceeding the 100 million mark in the second quarter of 2017. Global figures have been on the rise for the past few years thanks to Netflix’s global expansion strategy. Although more than half of Netflix’s streaming subscribers are located in the United States, the company’s presence is growing worldwide.
70% of all Netflix users, the total of which is the volume of 109.25 million users (as of October 2017), indulge in active binge-watching. It is the practice of watching television for a long time span, usually a single television show. In a survey conducted by Netflix in February 2014, 73% of people define binge-watching as “watching 6 episodes or more of the same TV show in one sitting.”
Thanks to Wi-Fi, the majority of the developed world tends to avoid draining its cellular data plans during Netflix binges. However, other countries—regions like Sudan, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Guinea and Finland—view a much higher percentage of content with the help of various carriers.
BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) India, the country’s TV viewership monitoring agency, has declared its estimates for audience size and television penetration, saying the medium now is watched by 780 million citizens in the South Asian nation. According to data released by Netflix, Indians are more likely to binge-watch shows at a faster pace than the rest of the world. What the world watches in four days, Indians take three, as per data on the average time spent daily per user between November 1, 2016, and November 1, 2017.
New stresses out of binge-viewing
Deloitte defined binge-watching as viewing three or more episodes in a single session. However, the people who participated in a survey conducted by them usually watched for much longer than that—especially millennials and those even younger than them. Those groups, between the ages of 14 and 33, binge-watched for an average of five hours in a single sitting, the study found. That totals to over six episodes of a 50-minute drama, or one-hour show without the commercials.
However, for some participants, binge-viewing consequently leads to new stresses, with 32% of adults and 31% of teenagers saying it had caused them to miss out on sleep. More than a quarter of adults surveyed said that it had led to them neglecting housework or other chores and responsibilities.
The issue that subsequently comes to mind is to learn what kind of shows people watch that cause them to binge watch so aggressively. It was discovered that shows like 13 Reasons Why and Sherlock are viewed with the entire family, while Game of Thrones and Stranger Things are often viewed by couples on a spree together. There are significant statistics that reveal the kinds of shows preferred at different times of the day.
Before work, people prefer viewing comedies like Master of None and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt over breakfast, or shows that do not require a lot of viewing time—roughly twenty minutes to half an hour, after having excluded the commercials if aired on television. Dramas like The Crown and Orange Is The New Black are often viewed over lunch, and over dinner, while thrillers like Stranger Things and documentaries saw a peak in viewership.
Some shows like NCIS and Law & Order: SVU make full use of their one-hour block of time. An average episode of NCIS runs for just over 56 minutes, while SVU takes up nearly 55 minutes. Depending on which season a person is watching, a single episode of Lost may feel like a lifetime, but in reality, each episode runs for only an average of 44.3 minutes. An episode of The Big Bang Theory will only cost you 20 minutes, while episodes of That 70s Show and Friends run for exactly 22 minutes on average.
US telecommunications company AT&T has released a “streaming consumption calculator”, which informs us with data about how much time in our life we dedicate to watching our favourite TV shows, in terms of data and time. It seems insignificant at first, but there are a lot more implications to be drawn from it—both positive and negative.
This is a glass-half-full-half-empty situation, depending on the reader. While on one hand, it is reassuring to realise that it takes just nine days to completely catch up on Game of Thrones, it is a bit disconcerting once we realise that these nine days are non-working ones, where one does nothing but stare at their screens all day long. However, aficionados of shows like Big Little Lies or Fargo are a bit relieved, because it takes just about 3 days to finish streaming and watching their favourites.
There are several sites like (https://www.bingeclock.com/) that can help one determine exactly how much time must be devoted to finishing a series. While it tends to consume the majority of one’s lifestyle, it is also beneficial because it provides a finishing line in sight, instead of a seemingly endless wait week after week, having to suppress anticipation after inevitable cliffhangers.
It is obvious that when there’s so much good content on the internet to catch up on or familiarise yourself with, you don’t feel so guilty about seeing time used up in this way: 36.7 working days for That 70s Show is 36.7 days after which you will be able to deliver the wittiest comebacks you could not even imagine, had you not seen the show. It seems like a complete win-win situation; one that I would definitely not pass up on.
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