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Updated Aug 04, 2015 at 01:14AM EDT by Brad.

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Binge watching, alternately spelled binge-watching, refers to the practice of watching several episodes of a serial television show in one sitting, as opposed to on a weekly or staggered schedule. The practice came into favor when online streaming services Netflix and Hulu began to provide access to complete runs of television shows in the early 2010s, allowing people to watch them continuously with minimum effort.


Though a snowclone of binge drinking, the exact origin of binge watching as a term is unknown. The Oxford English Dictionary claims that it was first used in the circles of general television fandom in the 1990s, when television shows first began to be released in full DVD sets.[2] They further claim that 2013 was the year that the word went into wide circulation.


A 2011 article in the Washington Post suggests that the practice of binge watching was common on college campuses nationwide at that time, indicating that student television viewing habits were being "transformed."[3] By July 2012, Slate author Jim Pagels was declaring binge watching a "pandemic."[4]

In late November, 2013, Netflix surveyed its viewers on their watching habits, and found that 61% of streamers who used the service regularly were likely using it to binge watch. In addition, they felt positively about the activity – according to PR Newswire, "Nearly three quarters of TV streamers (73%) say they have positive feelings towards binge streaming TV."[5]

Wired Magazine has published a weekly "Binge-Watching Guide" since September 2014[6] and Entertainment Weekly magazine regularly surveys celebrities on what they like to watch.[7] Mentions of binge watching on social media tend to rise around the release of either Netflix original programming or the acquisition of new shows by Netflix and Hulu; for instance, as of June 2015, the last peak usage occurred during the surprise release of the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, when the term was tweeted more than 15,000 times in one day.[8]


Some television critics have decried binge watching. Karl Puschmann of the New Zealand Herald called binge watching "empty" and said that "Weekly viewing is one of the few shared audience experiences left."[9] Jim Pagels of Salon said that binge watching diminished key aspects of how television is written, especially suspense and cliffhangers.[4]

On February 9th, 2015, a study was published by many news outlets that said that people who binge watch are more likely to be depressed. According to,

As it turns out, binge-watching has more in common with binge-eating and binge-drinking than one may think. Sung, Kang and Lee[the study's authors] polled 316 young people between the ages of 18 and 29 on the frequency with which they watched TV, how often that was binge-watching and the regularity with which they experience feelings of "loneliness, depression and self-regulation deficiency."

The researchers found that depression and binge-watching were very much connected: The more lonely and depressed the participants were, the more likely they were to devour giant chunks of TV programming. Subjects most often used this activity to avoid negative feelings, which is behavior also favored by binge-eaters and binge-drinkers.

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People've been dowloading/purchasing series long before netflix and hulu was. Bingewatching has been around a lot longer than netflix and hulu, especially in the foreign television communities (like anime fans or asian drama fans).


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