We are making our own rules when it comes to watching TV. Instead of one episode per week, we are more likely to binge watch our way through a series — on average finishing an entire season in seven days.
Though binge watching is clearly the new normal, not all shows are enjoyed the same way. Netflix has conducted some research into global viewing patterns to produce "The Binge Scale", revealing which shows we devour and which we savour.
Netflix examined global viewing of more than 100 serialised TV series across more than 190 countries and found when members are focused on finishing a series, they watch a little over two hours a day to complete a season. When organising series in relation to this benchmark, interesting patterns emerge, ranging from high energy narratives that are devoured to thought-provoking dramas that are savoured.
Series like Sense8, Orphan Black and The 100 grab you, assault your senses, and as The Binge Scale shows, make it hard to pull away. The classic elements of horror and thrillers go straight for the gut, pushing the placement of series like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and The Fall towards the devour end of the scale. Likewise, comedies with a dramatic bent, like Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie and Grace and Frankie, seem to tickle our fancy and make it easy to say "just one more".
It's no surprise that complex narratives, like that of House of Cards and Bloodline, are indulged at an unhurried pace. Nor that viewers take care to appreciate the details of dramas set in bygone eras, like Peaky Blinders and Mad Men. Maybe less obvious are irreverent comedies like BoJack Horseman, Love and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But the societal commentary that powers their densely layered comedy paired with characters that are as flawed as they are entertaining allow them to be savoured.
"As The Binge Scale indicates, the viewing experience of a series can range from the emotional to the thought-provoking," said Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content at Netflix.
"Netflix helps you to find a series to binge no matter your mood or occasion, and the freedom to watch that series at your own pace — whether that's to appreciate the drama of Bloodline or power through Orange is the New Black."
In the analysis, data was only included for accounts that fully completed the season. Completion rates were organised into days and hours. The global median days to complete the first season of these series was five days. The median hours per session for completers overall was two hours and ten minutes.
Series viewed less than two hours per day were identified as "savoured." Series viewed more than two hours per day were identified as "devoured." Series were not restricted by launch dates, runtime or number of episodes. Netflix says where a series falls on The Binge Scale has no relation to viewership.