Lifestyle

Binge-watching vs. weekly viewing: Which way is best to watch a tv show?

WRITTEN BY
02/02/24
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Fact Box

  • Collins English Dictionary declared 'binge-watch,' meaning 'to watch a large number of television programs (especially all the shows from one series) in succession,' the 2015 'Word of the Year.'
  • According to Britannica, the first use of the term 'binge-watch' dates back to 2003, but it wasn't until 2013 when the trend took off, 'Netflix's 2013 decision to release all 13-episodes in the first season of House of Cards at one time, instead of posting an episode per week, marked a new era of binge-watching streaming content.' 
  • A 2021 Statista survey of US adults reported that 35% of respondents spent over seven hours viewing TV on various devices each week. 
  • The 'very first full-length [television] program broadcast in the US' was a one-act drama called The Queen's Messenger in 1928.

Mark (Weekly Viewing)

When it comes to how viewers are consuming their favorite television shows, the traditional weekly format is still superior to 'binge-watching.' Most assume that binge-watching is more prevalent among young adults. However, a recent survey conducted by Disney shows that younger audiences actually prefer weekly viewing. Catching your favorite show as an allotted weekly destination is presumably more conducive to one's lifestyle, as many people don't have the time nor the attention span to devote to an entire season in a marathon viewing. 

While binge-watching seemingly caught fire in the 2010's, by 2021, around two-thirds of the most popular shows utilized a weekly format. It would appear that binge-watching could be considered something of a passing fad--an activity that initially was a novel concept but later proved impractical.

Weekly viewing allows you to fully digest the content and form deeper relationships with the characters. When you watch a show in rapid succession, it doesn't allow the situations to permeate fully, thus creating a more forgettable experience. 

Weekly viewing also gives way to a more 'communal,' experience. It allows viewers and fans of the show to bond over its direction and character development. Building anticipation is incredibly important to a program's effectiveness and long-term growth. 

Lastly, weekly viewing habits move us further away from the instant gratification mentality. We come to appreciate a more organic unfolding of events instead of conditioning ourselves to expect something all at once. It's clear why a weekly format has been and will continue to be a winning formula.


Samir (Binge-Watching)

Although now considered a generally healthy and constructive activity, it may surprise some to know that novel reading was once regarded as an evil pleasure. The same could be said of binge-watching, a relatively new phenomenon. As researcher Morgan Ellithorpe points out, 'There have always been moral panics about new technologies.' But, the case can be made that ever since ancient days when bards would sing entire epics, such as Beowulf, to entranced audiences, humans have loved consuming content in its entirety. 

Based on research done on the uses and gratification theory, binge-watching leads to positive outcomes when done right. It allows people to control their entertainment and their schedules in a much better way.

Additionally, associate professor Allison Eden says binge-watching helps people find meaning and insight. Since a person remains engaged and immersed in the content they are watching for a longer period of time, they can gain valuable understanding unobtainable on a weekly viewing schedule.

This extended escapism can also help reduce stress, as one doesn't have to wait too long to find out whether a favorite character survived a show or not. After watching an entire season's worth of episodes, one feels fulfilled and is left with enough time and questions to ponder the story's developments.

However, before embarking on binge-watching, make a reasonable plan for it. Between the demands of jobs, family, and errands, one must allocate a time when favorite shows can be enjoyed without distractions. Consequently, this also ensures that your health and sleep cycle remain optimal. And the planning will be worth it because, thanks to modern streaming services, favorite shows are easy to consume all in one sitting and not dependent on a seven-day scheduling gap.

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