Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom--A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at $48 with coupon code "BFRIDAY20" ×
Television Movies Entertainment Science

Binge Watching TV Makes It Less Enjoyable, Study Says (vice.com) 139

According to new research by Jared Hovarth and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne, binging appears to diminish the quality of the television show for the viewer. From a report: This conclusion is based on a self-reported study incorporating 51 graduate and undergraduate students at the university, who were split into groups of 17 to watch a television show at different frequencies. One group watched the one-hour show on a weekly basis, another watched it on a daily basis, and another group consumed the first season of the show in one sitting, amounting to about 6 straight hours of TV. Each group was watching the highly acclaimed first season of the BBC Cold War-era drama The Game. The season consisted of six episodes, and none of the participants had previously seen the show. After finishing the season, all respondents filled out a questionnaire to gauge how well they understood the show. 24 hours later, they returned to the lab to take a retention quiz to see how well they could remember details from the show. As the researchers found, the mode of viewing had a significant effect on the study participants' ability to remember the show. For instance, binge-watchers had the strongest memory performance the day after watching the show, but this retention also had the sharpest decline over 140 days. Weekly viewers on the other hand, showed the weakest memory performance 24 hours after finishing the show, but also demonstrated the least amount of memory dilution over time.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Binge Watching TV Makes It Less Enjoyable, Study Says

Comments Filter:
  • Stuff everyone already knows.
    • Stuff that most people suspect.
      However we came up with a process called Science, which collects data to show if our expectations match reality.
      We live our lives with a huge set of what we call "truths" that we actually haven't proven, or measured. We live and make decisions based on our biases, and often base off of experience from extremely poor sample sizes.

      For the most part we are able to live and be productive citizens with our untrue biases, and many of our unproven biases may actually be true as well.

      • There is nothing scientific about a sample set of one show and a mere 51 students that makes any sort of conclusion, let alone sweeping conclusions about all watchers and shows. The anecdotal experience of anyone who consumes television is more significant than this study.
      • I disagree with you both your assessment and the "studies" reaching conclusion.

        The study proves (weakly) that users who binge watch a tv show can recall it for less time. That makes sense. However, I hate watching shows weekly. Those shows that aren't released a season at a time, I will DVR them for the season and only begin watching them when the season ends.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        The big thing with watching a season in one sitting is continuity. Basically they often break the story they were telling to tell this particular weeks particular plot work. The arch old question, what is the speed of warp, why, it is the speed of plot and warp speed slows down and speeds up according to this week particular plot. This sort of stuff really screws with the entire story when watched one episode after another, not so bad a week apart, but when minutes apart, really story breaking. Lazy writers

    • Instant gratification found to be less satisfying.

    • I would completely disagree. I enjoy binge watching far more than having it doled out in a prescribed dose on a weekly basis. But that's neither here nor there, since the summary would suggest that they weren't testing "enjoyability" in the first place.

      Rather, the researchers were testing retention, which is a wholly separate issue. Whether someone can remember an episode a week or two later is only weakly correlated to their enjoyment of it. My wife and I discovered The West Wing on Netflix maybe two weeks

    • Aren't both groups just falling back to the mean of what someone is likely to remember about a show? It's just that the binge watchers start from a higher level of retained short-term knowledge before their brains complete the process of saving the most important/distinct (to them) impressions to long-term memory, and discarding the rest.

  • by cbeaudry ( 706335 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @01:51PM (#55142557)

    Seriously,

    How about a study with people who have jobs, kids and responsibilities and then see who enjoys binge watching vs waiting every week for the next episode.

    Most people I know with busy lives actually just wait for the end of a season that plays weekly and then binge watch the whole season on a rainy day.

    I know the parameters of the study are well identified in the article, but still, useless study is useless.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      It may have useful applications or suggest further research in more meaningful topics like education.

      It seems like there's always a lot of push to cram information down people's throats (the bootcamp mentality) in a short time period. If this results in people who learn less and/or have less long term proficiency, maybe it will suggest better learning/education strategies.

      • Most people learn by doing, not by listening/watching. This means modern schools with a teacher at the front blabbing for hours and students taking notes is just bullshit.

        Shop class - I mean "Industrial Arts" class? That's the proper way to teach.

      • What does education have to do with a subjective measure of enjoyment from different methods of consuming television? Seems like a pretty giant leap. It also isn't a statistically significant study with only one program and two tiny groups of watchers.
    • On average, American adults watch five hours and four minutes of television per day. That doesn't sound like most people just watching on a rainy day. It would seem that your own experience and those you know, don't represent the majority of Americans.
      • "On average, American adults watch five hours and four minutes of television per day."

        I'm highly skeptical of this statistic, especially if you control for the retired/elderly/unemployed. Not to mention controlling for the biggest consumer, people who leave the TV on whether they are watching it or not. We put the TV on for noise when we go to sleep and definitely aren't the only ones, that is 8hrs a day that nobody is really watching TV.

        But if I watch 16hrs of binge TV on Sat/Sun that is an average of 2.2h
    • less enjoyable is still enjoyable.

      For the people who have jobs and kids, would probably enjoy more being able to watch the show once a week, however other factors means this isn't convenient, so they will compromise on the less enjoyable route. As the trade off of getting fired, or put in jail just to watch a TV show is too high compared to binge watching it later for less enjoyability.

      • The thing is, this is probably also dependent on the individual.

        There are many shows I would not have watched if not for binge watching.
        Many shows dont really grab my attention, (subject matter, long plot lines that seem to never end, etc..) however when watching them in quick succession back to back any "well told story" can become interesting to me.

      • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

        I suspect the 'less enjoyable' part comes from not watching as part of the communal 'water cooler' experience. Sure, you don't get to discuss the latest episode with your friends and argue over the cliff hanger at the end of last night's episode.

        But... You don't have to deal with annoying cliff hangers, and you get the added bonus of spotting the obvious places for commercial breaks that are missing when you stream it. The first program I binge watched was 'Lost' - several years after the series conclude

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Jesus, people with kids never stop whining about their decision, do they?
    • How about a study with people who have jobs, kids and responsibilities and then see who enjoys binge watching vs waiting every week for the next episode.

      Oh you (almost) described me. I say almost because I'm working in a shutdown cycle at the moment so I have a 56hour workweek instead of the usual 40 hour week.

      I also binge watched all of Steins Gate this past weekend.

      Maybe you need better personal time management, or maybe you have that but don't think binge watching something is good use of your personal time. I do, so I made time for it.

  • Watching TV makes it less enjoyable
  • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @01:53PM (#55142571)

    Because we will drop the sub after we watch the one show they have we want.

    The rest of this study is irrelevant and honestly doesn't ring true. When a show is spread out too long I tend to lose much of the plot points due to other things going on in between. I tend to stop caring about some shows I might otherwise finish up. Possibly the last part of that sentence is the key point: when binge watching I might watch a show I'd ordinarily decide to give up on because it got stupid. When they're spaced a week apart I will just not bother to go back.

    • Because we will drop the sub after we watch the one show they have we want.

      The rest of this study is irrelevant and honestly doesn't ring true. When a show is spread out too long I tend to lose much of the plot points due to other things going on in between. I tend to stop caring about some shows I might otherwise finish up. Possibly the last part of that sentence is the key point: when binge watching I might watch a show I'd ordinarily decide to give up on because it got stupid. When they're spaced a week apart I will just not bother to go back.

      Alternately:
      When a show is spread out I have time to dwell on plot points a few days between viewings, that gives the corresponding events more significance and makes the show as a whole more enjoyable. The choice to binge watch isn't a reasoned decision so much as a failure of delayed gratification.

      Not sure which is true, but I'm not convinced anecdotes can solve this one.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Because we will drop the sub after we watch the one show they have we want.

      Until the service realizes this and jacks up the month-to-month rate.

  • Try that across multiple different types of shows: Historical realism, comedy, fantasy, action, etc. Was the show created for broadcast or is it a Netflix original?

    This is an interesting finding, but not conclusive of anything yet.

    • I found if I am watching the Classic Doctor Who episodes, I can only handle 1 episode a day. Binge watching these get tedious, because I am waiting for a resolution while I am just getting more talking, the bad guys explaining their plans. For the once a day viewings this actually allows me to absorb what is going on, while binge watching, I am just waiting for the action.

      Other shows, I can watch one after an other, because there is a lot going on, and over time puzzle pieces are being placed.

      It is akin to

      • by mccalli ( 323026 )
        That's an interesting comment which I'd not really thought of. The classic Doctor Who was broadcast weekly, on Saturday evenings. The extra talking there is now the kind of thing you often see with "Previously on ..." pre-credit stuff. It's to remind your audience what's happening and keep them with you.

        Agreed, doesn't translate well to binge-watching at all. Leads to an interesting question - will we start to see new programmes which are structured specifically for binge-watching?
  • Doing anything makes it less enjoyable. You just keep moving on.
  • I want to enjoy TV as much as I want to enjoy it, not as much as some marketing company wants me to enjoy it. I'd rather binge, and not feel some desperate need to watch and obsess over the next episode every day of the week. I have work to do, and winter is coming, literally; I'd like to enjoy the outdoors while I can.

    Why is everything that isn't a cocaine-like addiction presented as a problem?

    • Because to marketers and corporations, it is....

    • Results: Control Group - Watch one episode a week for 6 weeks

      Did you like the show? Yes
      Did you like the show more on the 6th episode more than on the first episode? I don't remember.
      What did you think of the subplots? I don't remember.
      Then why did you say you liked the show? Because after viewing just one episode, the next day I could talk about it with my co-workers around the watercooler.

      Results: Binge Group - Watch all 6 episodes consecutively

      Did you like the show more on the 6th episode more th
  • This seems pretty obvious. I (occasionally) like bingeing chocolate, but the first chocolate bite is always better than the last. Same with cheeseburgers and porn (no connection there, don't force one in snarky jokes).

  • misleading title. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @02:05PM (#55142739)

    What does retention have to do with enjoyment.
    More over these retention numbers are what would be predicted by many other studies on memory that support shorter study periods and frequency as ways of boosting retention.

    • Beyond that, I watch shows for enjoyment. Rarely do I even want to retain the plot of a movie/show 140 days in the future.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @02:20PM (#55142857)

      Exactly this. As far as I can tell, they're not measuring "enjoyment" at all!

      And given they're actually measuring retention, then of course binge-watching lowers retention levels. Duh! But I suppose that's so obvious that it wouldn't get funding... so they had to pretend they were measuring something else.

      • Since the title of this Slashdot post is the only place "enjoy" occurs, the authors of the study probably didn't have to pretend anything. And since this is Slashdot, I doubt the change in focus from retention to enjoyment is anything other than a mistake.
      • Exactly this. As far as I can tell, they're not measuring "enjoyment" at all!

        I know reading is hard and all:

        Moreover, the researchers found that on all three follow-up questionnaires, binge watchers reported enjoying The Game "significantly less" than those who watched it on a weekly or daily basis. Overall, those who watched the show daily reported the greatest amount of enjoyment over time.

        And given they're actually measuring retention

        It's amazing that when using a questionnaire you can actually ask more than one question at a time, such as measuring retention and then asking about enjoyment.

    • What does retention have to do with enjoyment.

      Read the article. Both things were measured. Two results from the same study.

    • What does retention have to do with enjoyment.

      Nothing, which is why they separately asked about retention and enjoyment in different questionaires.

  • Cheese cake, smoked meat or lesbian porn.

  • This just proves you remember things better if you spend more time thinking about them. The title is irrelevant to the summary.
  • by mordred99 ( 895063 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2017 @02:21PM (#55142881)

    I would like to see this study re-done with commercials. So they picked a British TV show, presumably with the British style TV (no commercials until the end of the show). Give me an American style show, with 33% or more commercials in an hour and I bet you will get totally different results. This is why streaming and binging are huge in the US, as people can absorb the content, with out the BS Marketing.

    • British TV shows have 6 episodes, much easier commitment to run through an entire series. American TV shows are maybe 12-20 episodes per season.

      Personally I only binge to catch up on a newly discovered gem, and then watch episodes of various shows here and there on rotation when I am caught up to make it last until next season.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sick and tired of watching shows and then they get canceled after 7 episodes, after one and a half season, at the end of a season when the creators didn't have a chance to wrap things up.

    This is the reason I binge watch most shows....mainly because I know what I can trust about it.

    Binge watching is less enjoyable because it is no longer a "shared" experience with friends and family...but whatever. Having shows canceled underneath me more times than I can count has driven me to this.

  • There's no shortage of good content. Maybe if you watch a whole season of House of Cards in one sitting, you won't enjoy it as much as if you'd watched it spread out. But since you can immediately find other shows of similar quality to watch, then maximizing your viewing hedonism is done by binging. The limiting factor is just your time and how much of it you want to spend glued to a TV screen. If there is one thing in the world that I have no worries about, it's the entertainment industry's ability to feed
    • by epine ( 68316 )

      If there is one thing in the world that I have no worries about, it's the entertainment industry's ability to feed us delicious screen candy.

      Regardless of metaphorical form, candy eventually rots your soul.

      I've actually taken to watching classics from the tongue-tied and psychologically bomb-sheltered 1950s (my least favourite film era) rather than the superhero man panties that Hollywood now cranks out (sorry ScarJo, this doesn't even count as film—it's a lot closer to a Gold's Gym cosplay pizza deli

  • Not sure what they were studying, but if you tied yourself to a chair with rough rope or heavy chains, then watch TV nonstop... you won't enjoy it as much. Repeat this a few times and you also will probably get vein problems in your legs, less muscle mass, higher body fat, weaker lungs, cooties, the uglies and who knows what else. People, for fucks sake stop sitting in front of a TV for a quarter of a day at a time!!!!

    • People, for fucks sake stop sitting in front of a TV for a quarter of a day at a time!

      Not me! I walk around while binge watching Netflix on an AR headset!

  • And binge watching porn makes you more tired.

    News at 11.

  • No commercials and I can watch as many episodes as I feel like which is usually 1 or 2 a night. I get the videos from my local library so there's no cost involved although there is the occasional damaged video. That's pretty rare, however. I did this for all the recent great shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Sopranos, The Wire, and House of Cards. The only problem is that is can take several months to work through all the seasons of a show and watching the same thing for that long gets a bit stale even if

  • no ads, done on my time, no week long annoyances of finding out what happens next only to miss the first half because of a wreck on the highway on the way home from work. oh yeah and netflix finally has a skip intro button. all these things that make binge watching less enjoyable. rofl.
  • I have a full-time job. I do plop in my chair after work, but that's a max of 3 or 4 hours, and I usually divide that between TV, internet, and futzing around the house. I might finish off 2 one-hour shows, and it's not unusual for me to not finish 1 one-hour show.

    Weekends are variable. I might have more time, but I also have plenty to do, especially during good weather. There will probably be crap days this winter when there's nothing better to do than veg out watching the tube, but usually my TV time

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You're better off consuming your media in the traditional medium - once a week and loaded with ads.

  • That binge watching "BBC Cold War-era drama 'The Game'" makes it less enjoyable.

    Some shows lend themselves to binge watching more than others. Especially shows that progress the main story arc little from episode to episode.
    • A better study would have been with different types of shows, one type that ends with each episode leaving you without the answers you want, and desperate for the next episode to start, like Orphan Black, and another type where the story is neatly wrapped up at the end of each episode, like House. I’m willing the bet the result of the study would be, ‘Binge watching TV makes you enjoy some shows more, but not others’. I don’t think many people would be interested in reading the res

      • With two groups of 17 as the subjects the sample size of this study amounts to "click bait." I have personal anecdotes with more statistical significance.
  • You have to be kidding. Glad I solved such dumb ass problems years ago by loosing the TV. Try it sometime--you might get your life back.
  • Reading the TFA (I know, I know, what sort of slashdotter am I?) we find that only people watching multiple episodes at a sitting found the experience "less enjoyable". People who watched one episode each day in a row found it equally enjoyable.

    I found waiting for the end of Breaking Bad and watching all 62 episodes over two months (one a day) to be quite enjoyable, and I am certain that I caught certain plot points that spanned seasons (which aired over a five year period) better than I would have with nea

  • Researchers discover that people don't really enjoy binge-watching shows that they're forced to watch, especially ones they're not that interested in to begin with.

    Honestly, who gave them funding for that?

  • binge-watchers had the strongest memory performance the day after watching the show, but this retention also had the sharpest decline over 140 days

    Why do I care about the nuances of a show after nearly five months? I'll remember the general story and if I enjoyed the show or not. The fact that Jon Snow had a hairless ass when he was banging his aunt won't concern me in January.
  • I find I recall things better over the whole story arc when I watch a series of episodes in sequence. One hour a week and I get bored and stop watching...or I wait for a half dozen to record on the DVR and then watch.

    TV is too much of a pain in the ass anyway with all the commercials. ..and they wonder why people don't want to pay $150/mo for all that interruption..

  • Steaming Turds like The Defenders make it much less enjoyable. Personally a good series I find far more enjoyable to watch like a movie over a few nights. Shows like Defenders are a waste of a few hours after which time you realise it is shit and don't bother with the remainder of the series.
  • ...as part of a study. Makes it quite irritating. Especially if you didn't have a taste for cold-war dramas to being with.

  • No, binge watching makes it clear when scriptwriters are stretching 1 hour of story over a span of 6+ episodes.

  • When I binge watch a show I actually get into it, when I have to wait a week between shows I barely follow the story and actually tend to forget about it between episodes. Every show has its good and bad episodes, but when you hit a bad one or 2-3 bad ones watching 1 per week you just say "this show turned to garbage" and stop watching, whereas if you're binge watching you just go through it because you know with several dozen others it's bound to get good again.
  • There seems to be a large bias towards binge watching. I think it's related to our society and the culture of impatience and instant gratification. I'd relate binge watching vs pacing a show out to orgasm vs heroin. Heroin gives a constant steady stream of dopamine release, while orgasm gives you this huge spike. So heroin actually feels better [reddit.com]. I personally think taking a small dose of pleasure each day is better for our brains, but what do I know lol.

Ask five economists and you'll get five different explanations (six if one went to Harvard). -- Edgar R. Fiedler

Working...