binge Watching: Examination of Phenomenon Origin

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About this sample


Words: 2481 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 2481|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of Binge-Watching
  3. Factors Influencing Binge-Watching Behavior
  4. Implications of Binge-Watching
  5. Impact of Binge Watching on Content Creation
  6. Binge Watching's Influence on Many Industries
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works Cited


Television is one of the major communication technologies and crucial element of mass culture industry as it holds the power to alter the world and culture around us. Thus, it is significant to notice that how it has evolved throughout time as a consequence of eclectic factors which are responsible for its present state. Similarly, it is also noteworthy to look at impact it is having on various aspects of our life. Present state of television which is multiplatform and without any geographical boundations is characterized by a phenomenon called ‘Binge Watching’.

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Definition of Binge-Watching

Binge-watching is defined as “long periods of focused, deliberate viewing of sequential television content that is generally narrative, suspenseful, and dramatic in nature” (Rubenking, Campanella, 2018, p.382). Although the word ‘Binge’ is associated with negative habits or addiction, alternative depiction of term ‘binge watching’ is also referred as way of watching in which viewer is entirely engaged with the content and is having an immersive experience (Rubenking,, 2018). Therefore, to avoid its negative connotations this watching behavior is sometimes also referred as ‘marathon viewing’ (Tukachinsky, Eyal, 2018). Origin of binge watching is combined output of assortment of psychological & physical factors related to the viewers, shift in technology promoting nontraditional ways of engaging with television and significant shift in content creation. This paper will explore how these elements through their interdependence give birth to this new watching behavior of binge watching. I will also be looking at the implications it is having on traditional form of TV industry, viewers and on the way media content is constructed. I will study only those changes in technology of TV industry which are concerned with binge watching and responsible for it eliminating all other transitions which shaped Television as it is today.

To begin with, availability of TV structure which allows complete autonomy over the way we watch content and when we watch it makes the phenomenon binge watching possible itself (Mareike, 2016). Contemporary viewers are no longer bounded by fixed scheduling patterns by broadcasting companies which restrict their freedom to exercise control over TV schedules. This change in structure of TV itself allows viewers to watch as much as they want without any hindrances in flow of content. Liberty in having technological control over schedule of content is further enhanced by shift in traditional TV towards being multiplatform which allows viewers to watch content without any physical and geographical barriers (Steiner, Emil, Xu, Kun, 2018).

In addition, these platforms offers some inbuilt features which stimulates the viewers to Binge watch. This can be illustrated by certain tools Netflix, one of the biggest examples of TV becoming multiplatform provides to its viewers such as post play button and release of full seasons rather than single episodes (Steiner,, 2018). This technological convergence performs functions which develops impulsive response in viewer and persuades them to watch without stopping (Tukachinsky,, 2018). Similarly, another way in which Netflix does this is through its various marketing strategies which in turn stimulate viewers to continuous viewing. In a recent campaign called ‘My first binge’, Netflix asked its subscribers to recall the first instance of when they binge watched a certain Netflix series (Prastien, 2019). As a consequence, phenomenon of binge watching bombarded, revealing massive figures about how much viewers binge watched just because platform allowed them to due to its structure and technological advancement from traditional form of Television (Prastien, 2019).

Factors Influencing Binge-Watching Behavior

Apart from this, several psychological factors come into play which convince viewers to watch in one go. To be part of culture and cultural conversations is one of the leading reasons behind why viewers binge watch. This is explained through the concept of FoMo (fear of missing out) which simply means being connected with what others are doing (Auverset, Billings, Conlin, 2016). Fear of missing out persuade people to be aware of pop cultural conversations and engage with them and watching whole series beforehand enables them to exercise control over those conversations. Steiner et al., (2018) argues that major motivation behind binge watching is viewer’s desire to be part of particular show’s cultural community online so that they can provide their own opinion on the show. In a similar way, they consider these discussions to be culturally relevant as large proportion of audience is engaged with them which in turn render a legitimate character to binge watching and participating in those online discourses (Steiner,, 2018). These cultural communities about any particular show allow viewers to create a collective meaning and provide them different perspectives about certain shows which further induce them to watch more and more episodes of that show. Matrix (2014) found that viewers binge watch not only to be part of cultural discourses but also to make sense of the show through crowdsourcing which comes as by product of participating in those discourses.

Recent transformation in content creation and emergence of compelling narratives is altering the way viewers react to stories and characters in them. Tukachinsky et al., (2018) suggested that binge watching is strongly linked to immersive experience with narrative which detaches viewer from reality and entice them to stay in artificial reality by watching the episodes in rapid succession. Through this immersion, they tend to form parasocial relationships with characters and their desire to stay in these temporary relationships is further responsible for continuous watching (Tukachinsky, et al., 2018). Interestingly, content structure is so firmly related to binge watching that even minute changes in this structure can have huge impact on the way people binge watch. These changes in structure of narratives results in two forms of binge watching (Steiner,, 2018). If content is full of cliffhangers and requires more active engagement with narrative, it results into high-attentiveness binging, while low-attentiveness binging is concerned with less serialized and simple narratives (Steiner,, 2018). Also, fear of being exposed to spoilers serves as another motive behind binge watching. To overcome this fear, Auverset et al., (2016) notes that people “binge-watch programs to be caught up with the narrative and ensure no one reduces potential enjoyment of a program” (p.161).

Implications of Binge-Watching

Certainly, binge watching is born out of plethora of reasons and each of them contributes to its existence both individually and in existence with other factors. However, these factors are further going through constant change and reorganization as response to the way binge watching is evolving as a phenomenon. Therefore, in order to analyze its present state, it is crucial to establish assortment of impacts it is having on each of them.

Binge watching is considered to be responsible for formation of addiction towards platform and development of impulsive disorders in viewers. It shifts viewer’s conscious behavior towards watching a show to impulsive and addiction based behavior which in turns results into formation of a habit to binge watch and stay on the video platform (Pattison, Dombrowski, Presseau, 2018). Trevis (2018) found that this impulsivity in viewers persuades them to engage in activities without any consideration about the consequences. This can have serious affect on other important spheres of life and can lead to sense of regret due to conflict of goals formed from binge watching (Pattison,, 2018). On the other hand, way in which viewers are cognitively involved with both the commercials and narrative itself has dramatically changed since the arrival of binge watching. Research by Schweidel & Moe (2016) suggests viewers are becoming less responsive to the advertisements as they see them as external reality which is obstruction to artificial reality they are immersed in due to binge watching. However, this complex cognitive involvement with narratives not only alters the way advertisements are viewed but is also responsible for sense of loss and sadness when such immersive and sophisticated narratives end, exposing viewers to reality. As Smith (2014) aptly notes, addiction to binge watching can lead to sensation of disappointment and physical sadness when content is no longer accessible or available for further binging. Tukachinsky et al, (2018) also found that hedonic enjoyment in beginning of binge watching session is much more as compared to the end of the session.

Impact of Binge Watching on Content Creation

As practice of binge watching is proliferating, content creators are becoming more careful about the coordination of structure of narratives with patterns of viewing behaviors. As it can be observed in how timing of cliffhangers, reversals and conflicts in contemporary narratives is completely in accordance with binge watching habits of the viewers, placed at the end of the story rather than in sequential manner (Bernardin, 2018). This in turn provides writers of the content some more to time and liberty to develop their characters in the story and integrate various character developments in single narrative itself. Instead, binge watching is so dominant in present form of TV that it requires content to be written exclusively for it. Placido (2017) notes how character develops in a complete different manner in content written for binge watching viewers and cinema viewers. In case of continuous watching, character development is extremely slow based on assumption that viewer will watch each episode to reveal more and more traits of their characters and will remain immersed in the narrative (Placido, 2017). Whereas, film content develop characters significantly faster and does not change the characterizations significantly over the course of story (Placido, 2017).

Additionally, binge watching is forcing writers and content creators to write with single and extended narrative arc rather than individual narrative arcs for each episode which was common practice in traditional form of television (Steiner,, 2018). This is also in accordance with uninterrupted flow of content offered by lack of TV commercials due to which writers are aware that they can stretch the narrative arc as long as viewer is willing to watch the show in continuous flow. With such a rapid consumption of content due to nonstop viewing of episodes, producers are facing continuous pressure to expand both the quality and quantity of content with enriching and diversifying narratives (Steiner,, 2018). Steiner et al., (2018) found that producers are completely aware about which shows viewers are binge watching and which they are not and such an analysis is helping them to make decisions about kind of content to produce and when to release that content.

Binge Watching's Influence on Many Industries

Lastly, binge watching is also bringing changes at institutional level and restructuring the organization and elements of various industries. Specifically, it has impacted advertising industry at massive scale and forced it to find new ways to advertise without interrupting narrative flow fostered by binge watching. To demonstrate, contemporary advertisements are not individual elements shown separately during the broadcast of the show but are incorporated into the content itself through various means such as narrative’s setting or brand of actor’s costume (Matrix, 2014). Purpose of such form of advertising is to make “it difficult or impossible for audiences to distinguish television content from marketing” (Matrix, 2014, p.132). This form of advertisement is becoming so effective to solve the conflict between coexistence of commercial and binge watching that even traditional form of TV is incorporating this model to regain its hegemony. In particular, TV online box set is result of phenomenon of binge watching and viewers desire to maintain autonomy over their television schedules allowing them to watch content without any restrictions (Barrie, 2017).

Another area which has been affected from marathon viewing is public broadcasting companies and channels operated by governments with nationalistic and propagandist motives in mind. This can be best illustrated by what happened in Singapore after emergence of Netflix and other online video platforms as they brought practice of binge watching along with them (Tania, Azad, Marcus, 2019). Competition from such platforms was so fierce that it forced the government to introduce some policy changes and shift towards commercial version of television with launch of an online application (Tania,, 2019). However, content on this new platform offered by government was limited to what was offered through TV cable, oriented mainly towards promoting national cultures (Tania,, 2019). Since citizens demanded diversity in content after being exposed to binge TV, this lack of diversity offered by government was raising concerns among public about legitimacy of the public broadcasting companies and their goals (Tania,, 2019). Thus, it became obligatory on part of government to get rid limited variety of content focused around government’s own nationalistic objectives and incorporate other producers from all around the world into its existing framework to meet the needs of the citizens (Tania,, 2019).

Since these transformations are happening in such an unprecedented manner, that it is proposing greater problem of how to study TV in its present state. Steiner et al (2018) argues that binge watching holds the power to alter our perceptions about TV, both culturally and technologically which can stimulate scholars to find new and better ways to study television. Interestingly, this power of binge watching is so widespread that even cinema; one of the major communication medium could not resist incorporating it. Placido (2017) notes that Hollywood want its audience to fully engage with the narratives for long time and develop connection with them due to which they are releasing their recent movies in form cinematic universes where viewers can engage with story in a manner similar to binge watching a show.

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It is quite evident that binge watching does not exist just because of the technological convenience offered by present state of television but also due to reasons that stems up from that digital convenience and works in coexistence with this transition.

Works Cited

  1. Auverset, L., Billings, A. C., & Conlin, L. (2016). Is Binge Watching a Public Health Concern? Examining the Association between Binge Watching Television and Mental Health in Young Adults. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 60(1), 160-174.
  2. Barrie, R. (2017). Advertisers Join the Binge Watching Era. Admap, 46(1), 22-24.
  3. Bernardin, J. (2018). Cliffhangers and Binge-Watching: A Formal Study. Projections, 12(1), 25-44.
  4. Matrix, S. (2014). Binge-Watching: What Are the Consequences? Journal of Film and Video, 66(2), 123-135.
  5. Mareike, T. (2016). Binge Watching and the Future of Television. Cinéma & Cie: International Film Studies Journal, 26, 93-101.
  6. Pattison, D., Dombrowski, S. U., & Presseau, J. (2018). Health Behaviors and Behavioral Economics: Economic Preferences and Physical Activity Stages of Change in a Binge Watching–Exercise Intervention. Health Psychology, 37(10), 949-952.
  7. Placido, P. (2017). Binge-watching: Television in the Streaming Age. Journal of Film and Video, 69(2), 50-67.
  8. Rubenking, B., & Campanella, V. (2018). Quality Binge-Watching: A Comprehensive Quality Assessment of Binge-Watched TV Series. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 62(3), 381-400.
  9. Steiner, L., Emil, J., Xu, K., & Kun, A. L. (2018). The Impact of Binge-Watching on TV Narratives. Projections, 12(1), 45-65.
  10. Tania, B., Azad, A. K., & Marcus, G. (2019). Singapore Media Industry Evolution in a Post-Broadcasting Era: An Analysis of the Impact of Binge-Watching Practices on Television Consumption and Cultural Policy. International Journal of Communication, 13, 497-517.
  11. Tukachinsky, R., Eyal, K., & Charlton, B. M. (2018). Binge-Watching and Self-Control. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 62(1), 1-20.
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 Binge Watching: Examination of Phenomenon Origin. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“ Binge Watching: Examination of Phenomenon Origin.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
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