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Are you still watching? Survey says 70 percent of Americans binge-watch

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Call it binging, marathon viewing, couch potato-ing; whatever vernacular you choose, it all boils down to the same thing: 70 percent of Americans are watching TV shows in large spurts, consuming an average of five episodes of a program at a time, according to Deloitte’s 10th annual Digital Democracy Survey.

Not only are those in the U.S. binging shows in one shot, but they’re doing so often, with 31 percent of Americans saying they power-watch on a weekly basis.

Not surprisingly, much of this binging is happening through streaming video services, with 46 percent of respondents noting that they subscribe to at least one. Millennials, characterized as those aged 14-25, spend more time streaming video than they do watching live television. And they aren’t restricting themselves to one service, or even two: those aged 26-32 (also considered “Millennials” by most standards) subscribe to an average of three video streaming service subscriptions.

Whether they binge weekly or not, more than half of all U.S. consumers, and three-quarters of millennials, watch movies and TV shows through streaming services at least monthly. Streaming services are also highly valued by those who use them. The percentage of subscribers who rank a streaming video service among their top-three most-valued subscriptions has tripled over the last three years, from just 17 percent in 2012 to 61 percent today. (Of course there are also far more streaming TV service and programming options today than there were in 2012, so this stat could simply be a reflection of accessibility and a better product.)

The trend also goes outside of the younger viewing crowd: 35 percent of binge-watching baby boomers (aged 50-68) do so at least once per week, and indulge in an average of four episodes per sitting.

What do Americans like to marathon watch? More than half (53 percent) opt for TV dramas. It makes sense, since that’s the genre most likely to leave viewers hanging at the end of each episode, tempting you to hit the play button to continue on with the story.

Gerald Belson, Vice Chairman and US Media and Entertainment Sector leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, calls the consumer appetite for content “voracious,” noting that the results of this survey further emphasize that consumers are “more willing than ever to invest in services to watch whenever, wherever, and on whatever device they choose.”

As for the much-talked-about second screen experience, while almost all consumers (90 percent) admit to multitasking with other devices while watching TV, interestingly, fewer than a quarter are engaging in activities that directly relate to the show they’re watching. Whatever they’re doing, millennials especially are keeping themselves busy, engaging in an average of four additional activities while watching, like surfing the Internet, using social media, and texting.

The “Digital Democracy Survey” was fielded online in November 2015 by an independent research firm, and included 2,205 U.S. consumers.

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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