binge-watch (verb): to watch a large number of television programmes (especially all the shows from one series) in succession

In 2015 Collins English Dictionary’s announced that their ‘Word of the Year’ was in “binge-Watching”. This decision was largely due to the staggering 200% increase in usage of the term that year.  To me, this increase in the use of the word is not that surprising. Since the introduction of streaming service Netflix in the UK in 2012 people have become more and more likely to watch all of their favourite show in one go, rather than waiting a week in between each programme.

It now seems very strange to think that there was a time not long ago that if you forgot to watch your favourite show, you wouldn’t be able to easily catch-up on iPlayer. The topic of binge-watching is particularly topical following many people’s recent House of Cards binge (Which came out on Netflix on the 4th March). With this in mind OnePoll decided to poll 2,000 UK Adults to see what their views were towards this increasingly popular trend.

Nearly a third (32%) of Brits said that they would describe binge-watching as one of their main hobbies.  Unsurprisingly binge-watching seems to be most popular with 18-24 year olds, with 55% of that age group most likely to describe binge-watching as one of their main hobbies.

TV viewers are now able to watch what they want, when they want. 35% of our respondents agreed that binge-watching a show makes it better, but which TV shows were most popular to binge-watch amongst our respondents:

Favourite shows to binge-watch:

Breaking Bad                 15%

Game of Thrones          15%

Big Bang Theory            14%

Walking Dead                12%

Downtown Abbey          12%

Friends                           11%

Broadchurch                  11%

Sherlock                        11%

Doctor Who                    9%

Dexter                            8%


Family Guy                     7%

The Simpsons                 7%

Orange is the New Black 6%

American Horror Story    6%

Lost                                 6%

The Office                       6%

Supernatural                  5%

Grey’s Anatomy             5%

The Sopranos                5%

Gotham                          4%

How do you binge?

Our respondents’ favourite genre to binge on was drama (24%), closely followed by comedy (13%). British women’s favourite show to binge is Downtown Abbey (16%), whereas men’s favourite show is Game of Thrones (17%).

There also seems to be a growing trend towards binge-watching movies series, especially before a new film in the series is due to be released.

Most binge-watched movie series:

Harry Potter                   17%

Lord of the Rings          13%

Star Wars                       12%

Die Hard                          9%

Indiana Jones                 9%

James Bond                   9%

Back to the Future         8%

Pirates of the Caribbean 8%

Hunger Games              6%

Batman                           6%

How do you binge?

On average Brits binge-watch TV 4 times a month, which works out at once a week. This is nearly doubled amongst 18-24-year-olds who binge watch 7 times a month on average.

22% of our respondents admitted to currently binge-watching more than 1 series and the average Brit has 3 shows on their “to watch” list, despite this 52% of Brits admit to re-watching shows they have already binge-watched.

Our survey found that the most popular way to binge-watch is using a Sky+ or Tivo box (36%), closely followed by DVD boxsets (29%), and Netflix and/or Amazon Prime (26%). 18-24 year olds are most likely to binge-watch using Netflix or amazon prime (52%).  But all these subscriptions and new technology to help us watch our TV can add up. In fact the average Brits spends £7.80 on binge-watching per month – that’s £93.60 a year!

Netflix’s feature of automatically showing the next episode in the series can lead to us unconsciously watching more and more of our favourite show, but can this eventually wreak havoc on our social and work lives?  28% of Brits have lost sleep in order to watch more of their favourite TV show, 22% have admitted to not getting dressed /staying in nightwear, and 17% have ignored their phone ringing. While these examples don’t seem like they would have too much of an impact on our lives in the long run, there were a few that have even called in sick to work/school/university to watch more of their TV show (3%).

The main reasons Brits gave for binge-watching were “getting too involved in the storyline” (35%), and they “don’t like to leave a show on a cliff-hanger” (28%). These were closely followed by 22% of Brits using binge-watching to escape from everyday life, and 18% using it to relieve stress. Although watching TV can be a great tool from escapism, the instant access to all the TV you could ever want may have a negative effect on how we think about TV. With the average Brit spending 1 hour and 13 mins thinking about their show when away from the TV, we may be getting a little too addicted to our favourite shows. 20% of Brits admit they never take a prolonged break from binge-watching and 20% of Brits admit to rushing home to binge-watch TV.

On average, a Brits longest ever binge-watch is nearly 5 hours (4 hours 51 mins). With a very hard-core 1% admitting to watching TV for more than 18 hours straight!  Maybe that 1% should keep a look out for a new posting from Netflix for a “tagger” role!

Binge-watching is mainly seen as a solitary activity, with more than half (51%) of our respondents tending to binge-watch alone. There have been a few studies suggesting that there is a link between the binge-watching and loneliness or depression.  Many people are also worried that this increase in binge-watching will decrease the number of families gathering around the TV to watch shows together! Our survey shows that 14% usually Binge-watch TV with at least one of their relatives, and 37% tend to binge-watch with their partner. In fact the majority of those that binge-watch with their partner (73%) believe that binge-watching actually improves their relationship!

The study for the University of Texas (referenced above), has also suggested that many physical health problems, such as obesity, could also be linked to binge-watching – which isn’t surprising seeing that a quarter of our respondents (26%) admitted to ‘binge-eating while binge-watching’. Further studies have also shown that sedentary patterns of TV viewing early on in life can impact cognitive functions. So it may be an idea for those 18-24-year-old hard-core binge-watchers to try a few of these “binge-watching workouts” while having a particularly long session.

There may be some downsides to doing a bit too much binge-watching but this trend is not only changing the way we watch TV but the way we make TV shows. Many TV producers are starting to notice a change in what watchers want from their TV experience and are changing the way they make TV. Many watchers have noticed that there aren’t as many cliff-hangers, as people don’t have to wait a week to see the next episode, and don’t need a reason to keep them hooked for that long. Also because there is no need for a time slot on a network, and subscription fees meaning there is no need for advertising, the length of TV shows can be totally up to the story that is needed for that episode. Due to these changes many feel that Netflix’s format is the future of TV. So for those that have not had a binge-watching experience, you may need to jump on the bandwagon before it gets too far along the road!