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Binge-watching your favourite TV shows makes them less enjoyable, scientists have found

Research also finds that binge-watchers forgot show's content more quickly than weekly viewers

Ellie Cullen
Friday 08 September 2017 12:14 BST
Binge watching box sets could affect enjoyment of the shows, new research has found
Binge watching box sets could affect enjoyment of the shows, new research has found (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Binge-watching your favourite television shows might actually make them less enjoyable, scientists have found.

Researchers discovered that watching too many episodes of a programme in one go led to "significantly less enjoyment" than if they were viewed on a weekly basis.

It could also affect how well you remember what happened - with binge-watchers forgetting the show's content more quickly than weekly viewers.

Writing in the journal First Monday, the team from the University of Melbourne said: "Binge-watching via video on-demand services is now considered the 'normal' way to consume television programmes.

"In fact, recent surveys suggest upward of 80 per cent of consumers prefer and indulge in binge-watching behaviour. Although it is a preferred viewing style catered to by many internet-based on-demand distribution companies, binge-watching does not appear to benefit sustained memory of viewed content and may affect show enjoyment."

The study involved 51 graduate and undergraduate students from the university, who were asked to watch the six, one-hour episodes of BBC America's cold war drama The Game.

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They were put into one of three groups - the weekly viewers, the daily viewers and the binge-watchers - and given separate booths in which to watch the show.

During the episodes, the participants had to press the space bar on a keyboard every time a character lit a cigarette or poured a drink, to prove they were concentrating.

After the final episode they were asked to fill in a questionnaire, then another 24 hours later, then again twice a week until 140 days had passed.

Questions included: 'In episode five, who was framed for the Parliament bombing?'

The research found that the binge-watchers remembered most about the content the day after they had finished watching, but showed the steepest decline of any of the groups over the following 140 days.

Weekly viewers remembered least after 24 hours, but were able to retain the information for longest - and reported enjoying the show more than any of the others.

The scientists wrote: "Participants in the binge-watching condition reported significantly less show enjoyment than participants in the daily or weekly viewing conditions."

They added: "Despite its position as the preferred viewing schedule amongst modern television consumers, binge-watching may affect both sustained memory and... reported show enjoyment levels."

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