Binge watching, also called binge-viewing or marathon-viewing, is the practice of watching television for a long time span, usually of a single television show. In a survey conducted by Netflix in February 2014, 73% of people define binge-watching as "watching between 2–6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting."[1] Binge-watching as an observed cultural phenomenon has become popular with the rise of online media services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video with which the viewer can watch television shows and movies on-demand.[2][3]


The word's usage was popularized with the advent of on-demand viewing and online streaming. In 2013, the word "exploded" into mainstream use when Netflix started releasing episodes of its serial programming simultaneously.[4] 61% of the Netflix survey participants said that they binge watch regularly.[1]

In November 2015, the Collins English Dictionary chose the word “binge-watch” as the word of the year.[5]

Cultural impact

Actor Kevin Spacey used the 2013 MacTaggart Lecture to implore television executives to give audiences "what they want, when they want it. If they want to binge then we should let them binge". He went on to claim that high quality stories will retain audience's attention for hours on end, and may reduce piracy.[6] Binge watching "complex, quality TV" such as The Wire and Breaking Bad has been likened to reading more than one chapter of a novel in one sitting, and is viewed by some as a "smart, contemplative way" of watching TV.[7]

ITV Director of Television Peter Fincham warned that binge watching erodes the "social value" of television as there are fewer opportunities to anticipate future episodes and discuss them with friends.[8] Research conducted at the University of Texas at Austin found binge television watching is correlated to depression, loneliness, self-regulation deficiency, and obesity. "Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way," the authors conclude.[9] Research conducted by media scholar Emil Steiner at Temple University isolated six motivations for binge-watching. The author concludes that while compulsiveness is possible, most binge-viewers have an ambivalent relationship with the nascent techno-cultural behavior. Furthermore, he argues that the negotiation of control in binge-watching is changing our understanding of television culture.[10]


  1. 1 2 West, Kelly. "Unsurprising: Netflix Survey Indicates People Like To Binge-Watch TV". Cinema Blend. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  2. Poniewozik, James (July 10, 2012). "Go Ahead, Binge-Watch That TV Show". Time. Time. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  3. Jurgensen, John (July 12, 2012). "Binge Viewing: TV's Lost Weekends". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 8, 2013. Using streaming and DVRs, TV viewers are increasingly gobbling up entire seasons of shows in marathon sessions
  4. "Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013". OxfordWords blog. Oxford Dictionaries. November 19, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  5. "Binge-watch is Collins' dictionary's Word of the Year". BBC News. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  6. BBC News. "Kevin Spacey: TV audiences 'want to binge'". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  7. Barton, Kristin M. (2 Mar 2015). A State of Arrested Development: Critical Essays on the Innovative Television Comed. McFarland. p. 228. ISBN 9780786479917.
  8. Plunkett, John; Sweney, Mark. "Kevin Spacey's MacTaggart lecture prompts defence of traditional TV". The Guardian. Guardian Media Ltd. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  9. Sung, Yoon Hi; Kang, Eun. "A Bad Habit for Your Health? An Exploration of Psychological Factors for Binge-Watching Behavior". American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  10. Baker, Brandon. "Infrequently Asked Questions: Why do we binge-watch?". Philly Voice. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
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