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Binge Watching

Motivations and Implications of Our Changing Viewing Behaviors

Bridget Rubenking and Cheryl Campanella Bracken

This book situates binge watching as one of several new television viewing behaviors which collectively contribute to a fundamental change in the way we view television today. Simply put, binge watching changes, or has the potential to change, everything: Engagement, immersion, attention to content and other devices, identification with characters and social engagement with fellow viewers, as well as content choices, and cable and over-the-top (OTT) subscription rates. Binge watching has quickly become a new norm in television viewing across audiences.

Binge Watching reviews historically significant advancements in the television industry and in technology that better enable binge watching, such as timeshifting, increasing quantity and (sometimes) quality of content, as well as distribution strategies and suggestions algorithms employed by OTT providers. We situate binge watching as human-centered, that is, driven by innate human needs and wants, such as a desire to consume well-constructed stories and to connect with others. We also review the current state of academic binge watching research—from motives and habituation to the (over-pathologizing) addiction-based studies. This text concludes with a synopsis of the central arguments made and identifies several areas for future research.

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Chapter Three: An Industry Perspective: Changing Competitors, Content, and Content Curation


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An Industry Perspective: Changing Competitors, Content, and Content Curation

Q: Did you watch TV last night? A: Yes/No (Select one).

The survey question above has only recently become more complicated to answer than it sounds. Does this include a Netflix drama viewed on a large screen TV in the living room? What about a Netflix original film? Does it include a half-hour long sitcom that aired last week on ABC, viewed on Hulu on a television screen? On a laptop? On a phone? What about professionally produced content on YouTube, Facebook, or Snapchat? What about user-generated content on the same platforms? From the industry side, are we including DTHT? OTT? IPTV? SVOD? VOD? UGM? Digital video? Film? Ads? A literal glossary of abbreviations is necessary to translate the relevant industry terms related to content types, sources, and delivery platforms.

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Relatively current data on what people are viewing and via what platforms have been presented in Chapter 1 (i.e., Much of it is time-shifted, viewed on-demand, and across screens). A brief accounting of historically relevant details was presented in Chapter 2 (i.e., the importance of timeshifting enabled by the VCR). The goal of this chapter is to breakdown the relevant industry competitors, content characteristics, and content curation strategies that afford binge watching in today’s media landscape. This is, of course, a difficult task to keep current on. This chapter attempts to situate binge...

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