It has been hard to imagine a life without streaming service subscriptions and binge watching in recent months. In April, it was reported that Disney Plus had already racked up a whopping 50 million subscribers in the space of 5 months. It’s not surprising – as a result of the ongoing pandemic, providers like Disney Plus, Amazon Prime and Netflix have experienced increased viewing figures, and even all-time record subscriber increases. But why? You might have already guessed – such platforms have provided a valuable escape to millions of people confined to their homes during worldwide lockdowns, acting as an entertainment lifeline to the isolated.
What is binge watching?
As online streaming services took off in the mid 2010’s, so too did the usage of the term ‘binge watching’. Put simply, binge watching involves viewing consecutive episodes/seasons of a show or piece of media in a short or confined timeframe. Some will race to finish a show within 24 hours of its release, whilst others may take on a more leisurely pace – with motivations for doing so ranging from pure boredom to simple peer pressure and the fear of missing out.
Social media can play a huge part in this – the huge buzz surrounding the infamous Tiger King series that debuted on Netflix in March was helped in no small part by the likes of Twitter and Facebook. If you hadn’t already binged the series, you’d be at risk of seeing spoilers – which can ultimately ruin your viewing experience. It’s much more dangerous than your traditional, linear style of television with weekly episodes and cliffhangers.
The concept of binge watching has long attracted split opinions from the likes of industry experts, producers and concerned family members. What was initially thought of as a harmless habit drew links to addiction and poor sleep quality amongst subscribers. It’s a method best used in moderation – see some helpful tips here – but it’s also a unique form of near-instant gratification that just wasn’t feasible with traditional television. It can open gateways to communities and fan forums and provide an interactive, exciting viewing experience.
Back to linear?
You may have started to see more and more shows releasing under weekly schedules on your favourite streaming platform/s. This is to be expected with licensed, up-to-date programming – and represents a method of keeping fans of particular shows subscribed, as opposed to consuming it within a weekend and cancelling your subscription shortly after. Of course, this doesn’t signal the end of binge watching – a healthy mixture between binge-able shows and linear programming seems to be the way to go to keep everyone satisfied (& subscribed).