The growth of Internet-distributed TV services has transformed video consumption, enhancing the level of control that viewers have over what they watch. Along with the release of entire seasons of programming at once, this has led to the phenomenon of ‘binge-watching’, in which several episodes of a program are viewed in one sitting. This article presents the results of a novel exploratory study focused on 40 Netflix viewing sessions from 11 millennials in their homes. Methodologically, we employed a novel mixed-methods approach that combines objective data (collected through a browser extension) and subjective data (collected via questionnaires completed before and after viewing). This novel approach allowed us to describe the binge-watcher’s experience in a holistic fashion. Results suggest that binge-watching is an individual activity mainly performed at the end of the day to relax, for boredom relief purposes, or for escapism. Furthermore, a binge-watching session lasts for an average of 2 h and 10 min, and variations on binge-watchers’ affective states were identified after Netflix exposure. Participants’ levels of valence (unhappy–happy) significantly decreased after binge-watching; their positive affect values increased primarily after watching sci-fi, while their negative affect values decreased after watching comedy and slightly increased after watching drama. However, the levels of arousal (relaxed–stimulated) remained the same. This study extends our current understanding of binge-watching in terms of viewer motivations, how it affects their viewing experiences, and participants’ subjective affective states. The investigation contributes, thus, to a relatively new domain of research concerned with the understanding of binge-watching behavior of serialized TV fiction.

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Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Department of Media and Communication

Castro - Mariño, D., Rigby, J.M, Cabral, D., & Nisi, V. (2019). The binge-watcher’s journey: Investigating motivations, contexts, and affective states surrounding Netflix viewing. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. doi:10.1177/1354856519890856