Earlier this year, TiVo released the results of a survey that found more than 90 percent of respondents admit to binge-watching. The tongue-in-cheek report also found Breaking Bad to be the most binge-watched show ever.
But binge-watching has both TV producers and advertisers scared. Why? Because it lets you skip commercials. Unsurprisingly, marketers have been trying to find ways to insert those precious advertisements back into the viewing experience.
This week, marketing firm Annalect released the results of its own survey on binge-watching, and found TV viewers may not be as hostile to commercials as previously thought.
You’re probably feeling pretty skeptical right about now, so let’s take a look at the numbers.
When asked why they binge-watch, more than half of respondents (58 percent) said they like that they don’t have to watch ads. Roughly the same number believe ads take away from the viewing experience.
So far, so logical. But then we come to the fact that nearly half (49 percent) of those polled believe that advertising comes with the territory.
Sure, I can understand ads on free streaming platforms like YouTube, but binge-watching is predicated almost entirely on commercial-free, subscription-based platforms like Netflix, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime. Hulu Plus is an outlier, making you sit through ads despite charging an access fee. Perhaps it's no surprise that it has just 5 million subscribers, compared to the 35.7 million who have signed up for Netflix.
Over one-third of respondents also said they wouldn’t mind seeing ads if their subscription fees were lowered.
Fair enough, I guess. Everybody wants to save a little money here and there, and everyone has a different level of tolerance for ads. If Netflix wanted to adopt the Kindle's "with Special Offers" model, that would be fine with me. I'll keep paying a little more than everyone else for the commercial-free version.
But here's where Annalect's study gets really freaky: 35 percent of these binge-watching aficionados actually admitted (presumably without an advertiser's gun to their heads) that ads provide a nice break during TV marathons.
Excuse me, but what? If you need an occasional break during a binge-watching session, just hit the pause button and contemplate the origins of the universe, or go make a sandwich. Do you really need to fill that gap with the colorful stimuli of a Swiffer commercial?
Are we so addicted to incessant media bombardment that we'll let commercials themselves stand in for our entertainment fix? If so, it might be time to put a tourniquet on our collective TV addiction.
Hero image: Wikimedia Commons, "Aaron Escobar" (CC BY 2.0)