What is it about?

We often think about binge-watching TV shows or other forms of media content as an impulsive, in-the-moment behavior. In our paper, we demonstrate that consumers are also capable of “planning-to-binge” by allocating future blocks of time to consume media content well in advance of consumption. Additionally, consumers are more likely to plan-to-binge content when the episodes are more sequential and connected, as opposed to independent. For example, the Netflix show Stranger Things features a continuous storyline from episode to episode and was rated as one of the most “bingeable” by our study participants, while the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone consists of self-contained episodes and was rated as one of the least bingeable. We find that these results also extend beyond pleasurable, entertainment content to settings such as online education, where learners can make “binge-learning” plans for lecture videos, and also prefer to do so when the lessons are connected and build off each other rather than modular.

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Why is it important?

Our work adds to our understanding of the phenomenon of binge-watching, popularized by the rise of streaming media platforms. We expand the study of binge-watching from an in-the-moment behavior to the planning stages. It is useful for streaming platforms to understand what types of content are bingeable ahead of time when promoting their content, designing ad-placement, and choosing the timing of episode release. Platforms may even promote the same content as more episodically sequential or independent by emphasizing common story arcs or separate elements, depending on the desired behavior, for example whether they want to encourage or discourage binging among consumers. Binging behaviors and varying content structure spans across all forms of media, which makes our findings relevant to settings with shorter-form videos (e.g., TikTok) and educational content (e.g., Coursera).


Writing this article has been particularly interesting since within the last decade, the landscape of online streaming platforms has undergone rapid change. Within the entertainment TV market alone, the number of streaming subscribers around the world has gone up, with new players entering every year and offering every possible format of content. Binge-watching had always been viewed as an impulsive behavior, but we caught onto this idea that at least some of it must be attributable to strategic planning and scheduling. The idea of planning-to-binge in advance of consumption is especially important given the vast variety of content, platform, and format choices that consumers now have. When we first started writing this, online educational platforms such as Coursera and EdX were gaining traction, and so it was also interesting to document how binging has made its way into this domain as well.

Joy Lu
Carnegie Mellon University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Planning-to-binge: Time allocation for future media consumption., Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied, June 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xap0000482.
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