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Year-End Poll: Do You Binge-Watch TV Shows?

This time of year, when most original programming takes a break through the holidays, it’s quite common for cable networks to air marathon viewing sessions of popular TV series. As we wait for babies to arrive, Mrs. Z has decided that this is a perfect time to watch ‘Breaking Bad’ in its entirety, from start to finish. Do you find yourself binge-watching TV shows like this, or do you prefer to watch them as soon as they first air?

According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, 61% of people who stream TV shows from online services like Netflix or Hulu like to binge-watch multiple episodes at a time. Netflix sees itself as helping to “free consumers from the limitations of linear television.”

I definitely see the appeal of binge-watching (and have sat for more than a few episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’ over the past week), but honestly, I generally prefer to watch episodes when they originally air, or shortly thereafter. I just don’t have the patience to wait for multiple episodes to become available, and I don’t want to risk having some important plot-point spoiled by reading something on the internet or overhearing water cooler conversations about shows I haven’t watched yet.

What are your TV viewing habits like? Feel free to vote for multiple options in this poll if they apply to you.

Do You Binge-Watch TV?

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19 comments

  1. Some of my favorite shows I discovered through ‘binge’ watching – usually picking up a season set and spending a weekend knocking off 10 to 15 episodes.

    The worst this ever got is when I got the first season of ’24′ on a Friday and was finishing up episode 24 on a Sunday night. But wow, what a ride.

    I also found ‘The Sopranos’ through binge watching, playing catch-up shortly before HBO aired Season 2.

    I currently have a number of season sets to near-season sets on Blu-ray and DVD that I’ll probably find myself binge watching sometime in 2014, including:

    Breaking Bad
    The Shield
    The Wire

    I haven’t seen one episode of any of the above yet (although it was impossible to avoid finding out how Breaking Bad ended…although it won’t stop me from watching the show).

    • How was it impossible to avoid the ending of the series? I havent found out the end yet and I’m almost to the last season, no one spoiled it for me and I havent found it on the net yet either and I’m on constantly browsing around all kinds of sites that could potentially spoil it. I’ve avoided it just fine.

  2. I chose almost every option. It really depends on the show. Often I’ll originally get into a show by binge-watching however many seasons are available, and then watch them as they air once I catch up (I was at least one or two seasons behind when I started watching Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Lost, Doctor Who etc. All of which became day and date viewing.) If I love the show enough I will re-binge on dvd or blu ray multiple times (Buffy, Doctor Who.) Currently I’m rolling through Supernatural on Netflix (Three seasons to go!)

  3. Pedram

    I hardly watch shows as they air. There are just too many good shows, and not nearly enough time to watch them.
    I’m not sure if this qualifies as binge watching, but I often watch older shows that have proven to be popular, and can be watched without the constraints of commercials or having to wait a week between episodes. I don’t watch them one after the other continuously though. I just put one on in the evening when making food or whatever, so I can watch an episode a night and get through a series much quicker.

    I only ever “binge” watched one show (Breaking Bad) because I hadn’t watched it for 5 seasons and wanted to catch up in order to see the last (half) season with friends. I had a month or two to catch up on 4.5 seasons so I did a couple marathon sessions. I can’t imagine having to wait for the cliff hangers over the huge breaks like my friends did though, so I’m quite glad that I did it the way I did.

    It’s quite nice in this day and age to no longer be constrained by the dictates of the TV networks.

  4. An extension of the original question may be how many of us wait to see if a show will last/be renewed before diving in?

    For example, I currently have all the ALMOST HUMAN episodes waiting on my DVR – I’ve been holding off on diving in because I know the show is on the border re: cancellation. If it’s cancelled, I’ll delete the shows without even watching.

    • There is nothing anywhere that says Almost Human is on the verge of cancellation, latest article I read even counted in the 7 day DVR stats and its doing very well for its demographic, so just watch the shows already, its currently my favorite new show on TV.

    • Pedram

      I know it’s tough to get a show you like cancelled, but I think I’m better for having watched Firefly (after it was cancelled, unfortunately) than not having watched it. I think the fact that they made a film to tie things up has a lot to do with that, but there are other 1 season shows I watched that were cancelled, but I’m still glad to have seen them (Lone Gunmen, Knight Rider).

  5. Kyle

    I usually miss any and all shows I’m interested in watching as they air so I just wait for them to come out on dvd/blu-ray or netflix before watching. Sometimes I wait for the entire series before watching (such as already finished shows or shows not yet started and nearing an end) or sometimes I watch season to season (such as waiting for an entire season of the big bang theory or dexter, watching it and then waiting on the next season to come out)

  6. Some shows like Game of Thrones benefit from binge-watching in order to keep all the complex storylines straight in your head. I’m really looking forward to the GoT season 3 Blu-ray release soon.

  7. Bob

    I try to watch most shows as they are provided, but occasionally fall into a trap of letting them accumulate on my DVR. More than once now, I’ve had entire seasons of one or two shows evaporate when my hard drive bit the dust, so this definitely isn’t my preferred method for watching, but I still let some shows build up and then watch them binge-style two or three episodes at a time. It sometimes seems it’s easier to skip an episode and let it go to DVR if one preceding already exists on the DVR so I try to stay current when I can.

  8. Scott Hunvald

    I first started binge watching a show about 6 years ago when I lived with my friends. Came home from work one night when the new Battlestar Galactica was still on, they were in the middle of the fourth season, I watched an episode and was hooked. Waited for the complete season boxed set to come out on bluray before watching anymore and picked it up immediately. It was hard to stop watching, I’d watch two or three episodes and then following each would then watch it again with the commentary. I lost a good bit of sleep during that time. So much fun though. Not related to the topic but in that boxed set I got a cylon figure with two right hands.

  9. William Henley

    I got started doing this back with Stargate SG-1 – binge watching. I’ve been doing it every since. With SG-1, this started because, we didn’t get cable growing up, and in college, the cable system was a mess and we pretty much had basic and Disney and Nick. The cable overhaul came my senior year, but SciFi was in the digital tier, and because of the contract teh cable company had with teh college, I wasn’t allowed to get digital even if I was offering to pay for it. So around 2004, after I had graduated and been on my own for a while, I started watching the Stargate season DVDs.

    I tend to knock out 5-10 episodes of a show on an average weekend. It has become my perfered method for watching a show. The exception are Adventure Time and Robot Chicken – the short running times make it perfect to throw on before bed when you want a good laugh but don’t want to commit your brain to 25-50 minutes of a show.

  10. I just binge watched Breaking Bad and I’m glad I did it that way. I also binge watched Orange is the New Black. Its kinda cool not having to wait a week or a year to see what’s going to happen next. I don’t usually watch shows this way but I kinda liked it. A few years back I also did the same with the second season of True Blood.

  11. A-lo

    On the newer stuff I will watch the episodes as they come out. But I do love finding a show that has been on for a while and watching a few episodes at a time to catch up.

    If I have a bunch of free time though and I binge watch something like Orange is the new Black, House of cards or anything on HBOGO. I burn through it so fast I sometimes have to go back and rewatch it, because it all blends together.

    Is it just me or does network progaming suck now? Especially dramas. Anything that looks promising like Almost Human never lasts. Or the quality dips because 20something episodes is too many episodes to keep the quality up. The 10-14 episode seasons on the cable channels and netflix etc seems to better TV.

  12. Ryam

    Through Amazon I was able to watch all of 10 seasons of Stargate Sg-1 in a matter of five months. I was addicted. 8-10 episodes per day. It’s all I did. At the time, my daughter was a few months old so I was just sitting at home all day every day.
    I’m thinking about doing the same thing with Star Trek now. Every single series. This will take a while.

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