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Why binge watching TV is actually less fun

Researchers from the University of Melbourne have determined that binge watching TV takes away from the pleasure of the experience. The investigation revealed that viewers felt “significantly less” enjoyment when watching a television show back-to-back compared to those who watched it weekly.

“Binge watching via video-on-demand services is now considered the new ‘normal’ way to consume television programs,” said the authors of the study. “In fact, recent surveys suggest upwards of 80 percent of consumers prefer and indulge in binge watching behavior.”

The experts divided 51 students into three groups to watch the BBC series The Game, which none of the participants had previously viewed. One group of students watched the entire season in one sitting, one group watched one hour of the show daily, and the other group watched the series for one hour a week.

The researchers monitored the concentration levels of the participants by instructing them to press a keyboard each time a character on the show poured a drink or lit a cigarette. In order to evaluate how much information the students had retained about what they viewed, the team gave them questionnaires to complete right after finishing the show, 24 hours later, and twice a week for 140 days.

The study revealed that binge watchers had the best memory of what happened the day after the show, but were less likely to remember the specifics of the show over time.

Weekly viewers, on the other hand, recalled the least details 24 hours later, but managed to retain the most information over time.
The weekly viewers also enjoyed the show more than any of the other groups, according to their surveys.

“It appears that, despite its position as the preferred viewing schedule amongst modern television consumers, binge watching may affect both sustained memory of viewed content and self-reported show enjoyment levels,” said the researchers.

“Interestingly, the more traditional daily- and weekly-episode viewing schedules improved sustained memory in an incremental manner, but also differentially impacts self-reported show enjoyment levels.”

The findings of the study are published in the journal First Monday.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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