Viewers Up the Binge

NEW YORK—The latest from GfK MRI research points to a binge-watching binge, with almost six in 10 (57 percent) TV viewers saying they have regularly watched three or more episodes of the same show in one sitting – whether that be via streaming, DVR, VOD or TV marathons.

Regular binge viewing includes:

  • 14 percent “usually – binge all or most of the time”
  • 18 percent “frequently – binge more than half the time”
  • 25 percent “sometimes – binge about half the time”

Asked to think up a new term for their behavior, regular bingers playfully gravitate to the term “extreme viewing” – and overall, 73 percent of regular bingers report having a positive view of their binge-viewing habits. Two out of three (77 percent) say it is “so fun to binge watch, I have a hard time stopping,” and roughly half (48 percent) feel that binge viewing keeps them “up to date/in the know.”

Four in ten (41 percent) regular bingers report that TV shows they have never seen occupy most of their binge-viewing time, compared to 35 percent for “old favorite” programs. Less than one-quarter, or 22 percent, say that original shows from streaming services take up the majority of their binge hours.

Millennials are among the most prolific bingers, with 53 percent saying that they are regular bingers, binge-viewing more than half the time they watch TV. Millennials are more likely than average viewers to say that live TV has become more of a special event for them (16 percent, index of 152) and that binge viewing makes them feel more connected to the shows they watch (32 percent, index of 143).

Not surprisingly, streaming services are the main conduits for binge viewing; two-thirds (66 percent) of regular bingers say streaming is the binge viewing option they use most (up from 58 percent 10 months ago). And Millennials who binge regularly, 81 percent binge through streaming services.

About one in four (22 percent) regular bingers say DVRs are their main source of regular binge viewing, and one in five (19 percent) rely on traditional TV marathons.

“Binge viewing used to have negative connotations in viewers’ minds,” said Karen Ramspacher, senior vice president of Consumer Insights of GfK MRI’s special research on TV viewing. “But as it expands further into the mainstream, people are excited to embrace the behavior. From DVD box sets to DVRs to cable TV marathons, binge-viewing has been enabled by a host of video platforms and packages; but streaming services have taken this habit to new levels. Programming for bingers, and figuring out how to advertise to them more effectively, are key challenges for programmers and networks alike.”

The number one reason people binge is that they have free time; but other top motivations include catching up on shows currently airing and inability to stop watching because the viewer is hooked. Millennials over-index on most of the reasons; they are 41 percent more likely, for example, to binge because they are addicted to a show.