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Binge-Watching and Binge Culture: An Era of "We Just Can't Have Enough"

With the emergence and rising popularity of on-demand streaming sites, the nature of our consumption has transformed and with it, our habits, values, and perspective of the world have changed as well, influenced by how it is being presented on media.

The medium with which we get information and entertainment has become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives so much so that not only do we spend most of our time in it but also much of our socialization revolves around it.

Now, we are in the age of binge-watching and the mechanisms that had captured our attentions through the wonders of TV and movies have now become intensified with streaming sites offering us an unlimited number of shows with no interruptions.

It is now slowly shaping the way we behave - spending hours on end of late-night viewing to catch up on our favorite shows, even doing weeklong movie and TV marathons.

It also affects what type of content we consume preferring bite-sized information that we would use to make opinions and "informed" decisions.

As a response to this trend, a critical theory has been put forth on this binge culture that is gradually pervading all across the globe with giants like Netflix and Amazon.

What we consider to be “bingeing” changes—it’s not just about the number of episodes you watch; it’s about the choice of a single show. Netflix’s full TV season drops have created an insular flow:
“Rather than going back to the home page and making a deliberate choice… the post-play function takes us directly to the next episode. The ‘skip intro’ function even allows us to make the narrative flow feel more seamless.” Netflix tells us at every moment how to watch it.

All of these are designed to keep our attention fixated on our screens on an intensified level than TV or movie theaters could.

The authors offer some directives for further work. One of these is to question the extent to which binge-watching has impacted biopolitical production.
In its advertising campaigns, Netflix has made light of how sleep and the necessity to eat or leave your apartment can get in the way of your binge.
Horeck and colleagues point out how this colonization of sleep is a core tenet of the company’s business model. Netflix’s CEO in 2017: “We’re competing with sleep.”

The shifts have only started to affect our consumption habits but they are soon going to have a drastic impact not only on the entertainment and cultural spheres but they have the potential of influencing social, economic, and political spheres as well.

(Image credit: Victoria Heath/Unsplash)

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Perhaps one way they can earn money without disrupting the experience would be to have premium subscriptions but then again, who would pay Youtube to watch videos uninterrupted? As it stands, we just have to endure those ads or use an ad-blocking plugin (though I'm not sure if it would work).
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TV shows with ads only between shows?

I can remember as far back as the 80s, watching weekend morning cartoons and even back then they had several commercial breaks inside the shows.

As viewers tune out those ads, advertisers countered by increasing ad loads - which drove viewers away. It's a silly cycle.
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Like they used to, with ads between shows. In the case of Youtube, it was ads next to the show/video or ads only at the start.
Now it's ads at the start, middle, end, AND part of the show(placements).
Even paid streaming services are adding more ads. Hulu went from 3 per commercial break to 5. Now they're even going to start doing when you pause.
Where does it end?
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