PVRs, Netflix ushered in wave of TV binge-watching

Lisa Goudy
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Lisa Goudy

PVRs and Netflix have greatly changed how we watch TV shows. This is because of the reign of the personal video recorders.

Sometimes referred to as DVRs or digital video recorders, PVRs revolutionized the way many of us watch television. You can still watch a show as it airs on TV, but not live. No longer do you have to sit down and watch a specific show at the specific time it airs. No longer do you have to watch all of the commercials during the episode.

Now you can record as many programs as you want, space permitting, and watch the episode later while buzzing commercials. You can even record several episodes for several weeks and binge-watch all of them consecutively a few weeks later when it’s convenient.

I am a PVR-crazed person. I’m not afraid to admit it either. It’s a lot easier for me to record a show and watch it later when it suits my busy schedule. That way, I can be sure to spend adequate time with family and friends as well as balance out my other hobbies and work duties.

I also watch a lot of different shows. The best way for me to keep track of each of the shows is to watch them in blocks. So I try to wait for at least two episodes of a certain show and then binge-watch.

And I know I’m not the only one. According to an article on The Daily Beast, called "Why We Bing-Watch Television," the results of a Harris Interactive study on behalf of Netflix was mentioned. The study surveyed 1,500 streamers and revealed 61 per cent of people binge-watch regularly or watch two to three episodes of a single series in one sitting.

Close to three-quarters said binge-watching TV is positive and 80 per cent said “feasting on a show actually makes it better.”

“It is remarkable that such a highly fragmented world is actively seeking out—and even preferring—longer form, more complex storytelling at the same time we want everything else in life easy and breezy,” the article said, referring to things such as Twitter, sound bites and blogs.

In the article, Grant McCracken, a cultural anthropologist who worked on the study, provided an explanation to the trend that I found illuminating.

“It’s a storm cycle: TV has gotten better, making viewers smarter, making TV even more complex, making binge-watching more fun,” said McCracken in the article. “And because we’re living in a world where too many things are constantly competing for our attention, developing a habit of binge-watching is like seeking shelter in the calm eye of that storm.”

PVRs have truly revolutionized how we watch TV. Of course, many people still tune in to watch TV shows live, but I, like many others, prefer binge-watching TV.

So many of the shows I watch, as an example, commonly end on cliffhangers. If they don’t end of cliffhangers, I get so involved in the story I really want to watch another one right away. Having at least two to watch in a row is a great solution to this and I can become totally immersed in that TV show’s world for a couple of hours.

With a plethora of great TV shows to choose from, I want to keep watching all the ones I love. Without a PVR, I doubt it would be possible.

Right now I can’t see an end in sight for the binge-watching era. Too many of us love it too much — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Harris Interactive

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