We all know that binge-watching is a part of our lives and everyone else's. But when did the precise phenomenon of bingeing take-off? Well, you can thank Netflix and a little show called House of Cards. Here's what you need to know about what bingeing is - officially - and how we went from watching an episode a week to a series in a sitting...

The ever-growing popularity of streaming TV and movie services has revolutionised the way we view content. The era of waiting days for the next episode of your favourite shows has passed. Now we time shift and create our own schedules. We’re the masters of the viewniverse! Go Binge means you can listen to and watch popular services like Netflix, Apple Music, Deezer, TVPlayer, and Soundcloud. Plus you can use Snapchat as much as you like, without fear of overstepping your data allowance.


Percentage of shows we binge onVia The Binge Files


In 2016 consulting specialists Deloitte polled 2,205 consumers in the United States, and found that 70% now binge-watch TV shows. 31% saying they binge on their favourite shows on a weekly basis. But we wanted to find out whether the UK was following suit.


Three undertook research among thousands of British adults to reveal the bingeing habits of the nation. Let’s see what our most in-depth report on TV bingeing ever: the Binge Files, reveals.


Partnering with data specialists Censuswide, Three canvassed the viewing habits of more than 5000 people across the UK. We reviewed usage trends of millions of Three customers. So, how, why, where and when do we consume our favourite TV shows, movies and live events? Before we dive into the data, it’s worth highlighting exactly what we mean by ‘bingeing’.


Where we bingeVia The Binge Files


What is bingeing?


To understand what binge viewing is, let’s start with Netflix. It was Netflix after all, who popularised the idea.


In 2014, Netflix found 73% of people questioned defined binge viewing as this. “Watching four or more episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.” If that seems like a lot of television, then you may want to sit down for this next truth bomb. In their 2016 study, Netflix also revealed this – most people finish the first season of a new show in under a week. Which also begs the question, why do we binge?


The Binge Files results support this. 46% of respondents aged between 16 and 24 are unable to wait for the next episode once they’d started a new season.


Mobile Binge GenresVia The Binge Files


The origins of Generation Binge


Binge viewing isn’t a new phenomenon and was a by-product of the growth in popularity of TV boxsets in the 90s. But it wasn’t until the new millennium that bingeing hit its stride. Aided by the availability of digital downloads and online DVD rentals. By 2010 these services were beginning to take a sizeable chunk out of the global sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. The UK’s rental DVD market was dominated by LoveFilm. But, in the US, another company was making huge strides into the VoD and DVD rentals market: Netflix.


From 2007, Netflix offered streaming. But it wasn’t until 2013, with the company’s shift into TV and movie production, that House of Cards changed everything. Before this point, if you were patient – or late enough to the party – you could binge old shows. But with new shows? Forget it. Fast track to now and there are even types of TV bingers, who probably all need Go Binge. We even have phones with OLED displays, edge-to-edge screens, and we’re building the UK’s fastest 5G network. That’s even more reason to Go Binge.


The Atlantic’s Richard Lawson summed up this new phenomenon when he reviewed the series back in 2013:


“I started on episode 6, and 7 hours later, there I was, blinking my salty eyes and dying for more,” he wrote. “The fear, really, was that I’d be left behind if I didn’t finish.”

Then, in 2013, Netflix premiered the entire first season of House of Cards on the same day. This was when we truly unleashed our binge demon, and we’ve been feeding it ever since.


Main pic: Getty via Mixmike