New Netflix data suggest it’s not “Netflix and chill”—it’s Netflix and hibernate

Wanna watch another one?
Wanna watch another one?
Image: Courtesy of AMC
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Be honest. Do you have a binge-watching problem? When you start a new TV series, do you neglect your family, your friends, or your job? Do you enter a quasi-hibernative state of audiovisual euphoria? According to new data released by Netflix, you’re not the only one.

When we start a new television show, it usually doesn’t take very long at all to finish it. Netflix users on average watch about two and a half hours of a show per day, the streaming service told the New York Times this week before releasing a blog post of its own. Most seasons of shows are watched beginning-to-end in about four or five days. Users rarely need more than a week to watch a season. (Netflix’s data only accounted for the first seasons of shows—the company said that subsequent seasons are binged even faster, but did not provide any more data.)

Netflix said that certain genres of shows are consumed faster than others. Those that are “devoured,” or completed in four days or less, include thrillers, horrors, and sci-fi. Breaking BadThe Walking Dead, and American Horror Story are among the shows that Netflix users finish the fastest.

Genres that take a little longer to chew on (about six days) include “irreverent comedies” such as Arrested Development and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the political dramas House of Cards and The West Wing, and the historical dramas Mad Men and Narcos. Netflix calls these “savored” shows, though let’s be honest, they’re still consumed quite rapidly. If you can watch all 13 episodes of the first season of Mad Men in six days or less, then you either really like 1960s fashion and ritzy cocktails, or you’ve got a lot of time on your hands.

What’s clear is that once we start a new show, that’s pretty much all we do outside of work, school, or sleep until the season is finished. In fact, a Cambridge statistician went so far as to jokingly blame TV-watching for the declining sex rate over the past few decades. (Not now, honey, I have to finish Fargo.)

In this era of “peak TV,” when there’s much more good television than the average person can reasonably watch, enterprising bingers will always have a new show to devour. If you miss a show while it’s on the air, you can always catch up once it reaches one of the many streaming services. You’ll probably miss out on the cultural conversations surrounding those shows, but who needs culture when you can just consume?