Australians are increasingly accelerating their binge television viewing, according to Netflix, with the number of people viewing entire series in one day on the rise.
The streaming service, which launched in Australia in 2015, said the recent revamp of US series Gilmore Girls was the most “binge-raced” in Australia – that is, it had the most number of people watching the entire series within 24 hours of its release.
Fuller House, Orange Is the New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt made it into the top 20.
Netflix said the number of users viewing new shows at that rate had increased 20-fold in three years. Australia comes in eighth place globally for numbers of Netflix binge-racers, with one viewer consuming a series in a day on 13 occasions this year.
The figures suggest a growing appetite among Australians for TV on demand.
Netflix does not release subscriber figures for Australia, but Roy Morgan last month estimated more than 7.5 million Australians now had access to Netflix in the three months to June 2017, a 22 per cent boost on the same period last year.
The US company announced on Monday it had added more subscribers globally in the most recent quarter than it had expected to, and was going to be boosting its content production.
In Australia, viewers in the ACT are the most active binge-racers, according to Netflix, followed by Queenslanders and Tasmanians. Those in New South Wales come in last place.
Dr Marc C-Scott, a lecturer in screen media at Victoria University, said the way Netflix original content was produced – without the need to account for ad breaks – may partly explain its bingeable nature.
“What it allows is for the story to really build up,” he said. “We don’t have those cliffhangers where we have five minutes of content, but then they cut to the ad break – [where] they put a slight cliffhanger in there, but then you go back after the ad break and it is repeated to you.
“There are some really interesting ways in which a story can be told over that 45-minute episode to really keep you engaged and hanging in there to then want to go on to the next episode, and the following episode, and effectively binge the entire season.”
Does that mean more time spent on the couch?
Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, an expert in educational neuroscience at the University of Melbourne, told the ABC recently that binge-watchers actually remembered less about a particular show than those who slept between episodes.
“You have maybe 72 hours [after viewing] and then your memory for everything starts to tank,” he told ABC Radio.
“Whereas, if you watch a show once a night or once a week … your memory for everything increases, it actually gets better.”
A University of Queensland study earlier this year found that among older adults, those who watched five hours or less of TV a week had better health outcomes than those who spent more than 30 hours watching TV.
However, that study took into account time spent sitting on the couch – and not all Netflix viewers are doing that.
Some telcos offer free TV streaming on mobile, while a CommScore report in 2014 found half of American millennials on Netflix do at least some of their watching on a mobile phone.
“Even with YouTube we have massive amounts of content being consumed on mobile devices, and I think that is going to continue to grow,” Dr Scott said.
“People want to consume content on any screen at any time.”
Netflix commissioned a study in 2013 of 3000 American adults that found 73 per cent viewed binge-watching as positive, and that it was a welcome respite from a busy world.