The dark side of binge watchingIt’s dark and we are in the middle of Ohio. The road trip has been quiet until my daughter’s jubilant cry from the backseat of the car: “Mom! I just finished all 5 seasons of Baby Daddy!” The pride in her voice was evident. The time spent…the dedication…she was finally caught up and ready to watch the current season. Yet, the glow lasted only a short while before the angst set in. “Now what should I watch?” “When will the next episode be ready?” And, every parent’s all-time favorite road-trip question: “I’m bored…are we there yet?”

Everybody is doing it.  The rise in streaming services and greater availability of on demand content has dramatically changed the viewing landscape.   From our most recent Invoke Xperience report in March, more than 6 in 10 binge viewing occasions involve 4 or more episodes in one sitting.  Binge-viewing offers greater control, allowing the viewer to get caught up on their own time and to freely curate their own programming line-up.  For many, a good binge marathon means not having to let go of characters and storylines that they have become attached to.  The emotional connection is the drug that keeps them hooked, ready to hit “play” once again.

“I like it because I don’t have to wait on the suspense of seeing the episode next week. It’s almost addictive. It’s like I can’t turn the TV off until I watch all of the episodes that are available.” (Female, GenX)

Yet, there is a dark-side to binge-viewing.  Once the emotional-high dissipates feelings of guilt, impatience, irritation, disappointment and sadness often set in.

  • “I feel empty inside. It kind of feels like I was on a bender for and I’m having withdrawals, especially if I loved the show.” (Male, Millennial)
  • “The last time I binge watched a show was Sons of Anarchy a couple years ago. When I finished all available episodes, I honestly felt like crying because I had become so involved in the show. It was strange not watching it anymore.” (Female, Millennial)
  • “I have the ‘hurry up and make more episodes’ feeling and I get impatient. I might be sad depending on what happened and if it was the very last episode in the series.” (Female, GenX)
  • “It leaves me wanting more, however, sometimes I feel like I have wasted my time.” (Female, Millennial)
  • “Satisfied but wanting more. I’m kind of tired after watching so many, but it seems I can’t help it.” (Male, Boomer)

What’s the cure?  The next binge of course!  Despite the potential down-side, most viewers are quickly ready to jump in again:  “What should I watch next Mom?”

Want to learn more about the changing TV viewing landscape?  Schedule a Lunch & Learn with Invoke team and we will present the findings from our most recent Xperience:  TV Habits are Changing:  Here’s Why and What You Can Do About It.



Kathy Alexander

VP of Research & Insights

KathyCapitalizing on her broad research experience over the past 20 years, Kathy demonstrates an in-depth understanding of industry trends and consumer needs. With an emphasis on how consumers use media, she has conducted a wide variety of projects including advertising messaging, programming evaluation, brand positioning, market segmentation, customer satisfaction, pricing and packaging, and new product development. 

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