According to a survey conducted this spring, an overwhelming majority of TV viewers admit to binge-watching, with 91 percent of respondents tearing themselves away from their fourth Sopranos of the day long enough to respond in the affirmative. But before you go using this data as a justification for spending a weekend slamming through the entirety of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, dig a little deeper: The survey was conducted by TiVo, manufacturer of goods and services whose most alluring feature is the ability to hoard multiple episodes of a television series for later, excessive consumption—to be watched in some sort of, oh what’s the word? Binge?
TiVo’s definition of binge-watching is similarly flimsy, with the survey establishing the practice as watching three consecutive episodes of the same program—a program that’s most frequently a drama, with the most-binged shows among respondents being Breaking Bad, House Of Cards, and Game Of Thrones. Anyone who’s watched these series knows that, like Lays Potato Chips or a pipe full of chemically pure, extremely potent methamphetamine, it’s hard to stop at just one, let alone three. The shameful, sinking feeling of a true binge doesn’t set in until, what, the fifth or sixth episode, right? Three hours of TV is just like watching a network’s complete primetime schedule from end-to-end, a behavior television programmers have encouraged since the position of “television programmer” was conceived.
The survey also notes the rising trend of so-called “super-bingeing,” with 29 percent of happy TiVo users “deliberately put off watching an entire season of a show,” gleefully watching their DVR harvest grow in the hopes of converging on the crop in one fell, locust-esque swoop—a fell swoop that wouldn’t be possible without that modern miracle, the TiVo.