What's a TV? The viewing habits of a connected generation

I don’t have a television. All I have is Netflix and Apple TV and Hulu.
— Bojana Novakovic (Actress)

If we were to say Netflix, or Now TV, or Amazon Prime Instant Video, or Sky GO, you'd likely know exactly what they are and, just as likely, have a subscription to at least one of these. 

Yes, these are streaming platforms - offering subscribers a plethora of movies and shows to watch from the comfort of their homes, or out and about via mobile devices. What is interesting about them is how, in a markedly small amount of time, they have changed the viewing habits of multiple generations. Terms such as "binge watching" and "cord-cutting" have become well known - and for good reason too! 

Just one more


Perhaps the most notable change to people's viewing habits is the "binge watching" phenomenon. This is where people watch between 2 - 6 episodes of a series in one sitting (the number actually exceeding this in many cases). For some series this is the same as watching three films one after the other. 

In fact, binge watching has become so notable that Netflix has carried out there own research and created a binge scale! 😮

While this all sounds like fun (who wouldn't want to spend 6 hours just watching some great TV series?) health experts are beginning to fear mental and physical ramifications from this.

Research suggests that binge watching shows can cause back pain, weight gain and promote lethargy. Additionally, there are fears of addiction (yes - you can now become addicted to watching TV shows), depression (apparently we become a little blue after a series ends), and strong feelings of emptiness and loneliness forcing watchers to start the cycle all over again. 

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The effect in schools

Considering the above it comes as little surprise that the 'Netflix effect' is affecting young learners in school. A recent study shows that the average pupil (12 - 16) will have 6.5 hours a night sleep. Now, with Netflix and the like, this average has dropped lower. 

A Huffington Post article reports that:

teens who went to bed later than 11:30 p.m. on school nights and 1:30 a.m. in the summer had lower GPAs [grades] than teens who got to bed earlier. They were also more susceptible to emotional problems.

Obviously it would be fruitless to ask your pupils to stop watching Netflix altogether! However, it is something that should be highlighted in schools. If something as simple as watching a few less episodes a night could have a positive effect on their futures and mental wellbeing, it is fully worth educating them on the damage binge watching can cause.

Televisions join the relics list

It may sound bizarre but 1 in 20 families are now ditching their TVs. For some this is to break away from the onslaught of tech and digital - perhaps opting for less time on the couch and more time outside. For the majority though, the ditched TV is being replaced by laptops, Smartphones and tablet devices. 

This trend is suggesting that the television - a staple in almost every household since the 90's - is beginning to be phased out; potentially joining the same list that homes VHS video cassettes; music tapes; CDs; cameras, that take actual film; and fax machines. 

While this movement may well be cut short, by new innovations to the quality of televisions (with 3D, UltraHD and 4K screens already in the offering), it does raise the question of what will happen to shows that are aired - not streamed. Will these services fall by the wayside as the freedom to pick and watch what you desire (without the aggro of advertisements on top) takes preference? Will all television sets have streaming services fully integrated into them (many Smart TVs already utilise apps that include Amazon Instant Video and Netflix)? Will the very nature of waiting a week for the next episode (when will Game of Thrones be back!!!) end as entire series are released all at once (something that is already being seen - particularly with Amazon and Netflix exclusive titles)?

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It all adds up to some interesting thoughts but, unlike the next episode, I guess we are going to have to wait and see if people can really do without TVs!


As a digital marketing company trends such as this are incredibly thought-provoking. It shows just how much influence something such as digital streaming can have on what many would say would never change! What are you thoughts on all this? Do you prefer a lengthy session on Netflix over the usual one episode a week format? Comment below.