In 2017, Netflix users got choosier about the shows they binge-watch

It’s a mystery.
It’s a mystery.
Image: Beth Dubber/Netflix
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Netflix may be synonymous with binge-watching, buy viewers are learning that, in the age of too-much TV, there are some types of shows that are more binge-able than others.

Viewers still stay glued to their screens for hours on end when watching mystery series like American Vandal and 13 Reasons Why, and sci-fi shows like 3%, Netflix found. Those were the most popular series to binge-watch—or watch for more than 2 hours a day—on Netflix in 2017, based on the company’s average daily-viewing data from Nov. 1, 2016-2017.

Audiences prefer to take their time with thoughtful and suspenseful dramas like The Crown and Ozark, though. They’re more likely to watch an episode or two a day of these hour-long dramas, rather than try to tackle them all in a single sitting, Netflix found. Prestige dramas like The Crown, which just earned a Golden Globe nod for best TV drama series, take time to process. They’re meant to be pondered and debated, and they reward close viewing.

Viewers showed restraint with smart, popular Netflix comedies from 2017, like Big Mouth, GLOW, and Dear White People, too. Audiences watched these for less than two hours at a time. These episodes are shorter, around 20-30 minutes. You can easily binge an entire 10-episode season in a single sitting. But would you want to? Then you’re left with that empty feeling when something so good is over too quickly.

Netflix set the standard for releasing new seasons of shows in full, rather than in weekly installments like its TV counterparts do, when it got into the original TV game in 2012. That’s become the model for most Netflix releases, except for some talk shows like Chelsea. Streaming rivals Amazon and Hulu borrowed or experimented with the binge model, too. It’s led to a deluge of new shows to watch, on top of the series from traditional networks like NBC, FX, and HBO that roll out weekly, and the back catalog of old shows now available for viewing on demand.

In an on-demand environment with so much to watch, there’s no longer any reason for audiences to rush to the end of show. They know there will always be something else waiting for them when they’re through.