Forget the Past: Binge-Watchers Want Current TV Episodes

A Comcast survey describes the typical TV die-hard as the annual Xfinity Watchathon Week kicks off on March 31. (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

An overwhelming majority of Americans binge-watch television shows, and when they do, they prefer current season episodes.

According to a recent online survey by Harris Poll on behalf of Comcast, over half of binge-watchers would rather watch current season episodes (55%).[1]  This was also the case in some of the country’s largest cities as binge-watchers in Washington, DC (66%), Philadelphia (62%), San Francisco (62%), Houston (61%), L.A. (59%), Chicago (59%) and Boston (58%) would all rather catch-up on the shows people are talking about right now.

The survey also revealed that 82% of U.S. adults say they watch two or more TV episodes in one sitting, 56% want the lights on, 65% sit versus lay down, 58% prefers salty snacks to sweet and 11% would pick Rick Grimes of The Walking Dead as their preferred TV character "binge buddy."


These results illustrate viewer behavior and preferences regarding binge-watching, as Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers embark on the biggest TV binge of the season’s hottest shows starting March 31: Xfinity Watchathon Week.

"There is so much great TV on today that it’s sometimes hard to stay current," said Matt Strauss, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Video Services for Comcast Cable.  "Watchathon gives customers a unique, all-you-can-watch opportunity to catch-up on this season’s most talked about programs, and it’s also a great reminder of all the content that’s available on our platform every day.  With more than 50,000 choices, Xfinity On Demand is the go-to choice to catch-up and keep-up."

More detailed findings from the survey include:

"Bingey-est" Cities

The "bingey-est" cities are Dallas, San Francisco and DC (88% each).  Over four in five adults in Philadelphia (84%), NYC (83%), L.A. (83%) and Houston (82%) are TV binge-watchers. Adults in L.A. are the most frequent binge-watchers with half of them (51%) bingeing at least once a week.

Cast of Characters

If bingers are looking for a TV character "binge buddy," they want one who can dispose of zombies.  Nationally, the three most popular "binge buddies" are Rick Grimes of The Walking Dead (11%), Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones (8%) and Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife (7%). Boston is an outlier where the locals are more likely to prefer Lady Mary Crawley of Downton Abbey (11%).

Eat. Binge.

A binge-watcher cannot survive on megapixels alone.  The preferred snacks are chips (42%) and popcorn (40%), but 31% will go for something sweet such as candy or cookies.

But…TV Over Food

When faced with a decision between food and TV, an overwhelming majority of Americans would rather feast on their big screen than a buffet.  Nearly three-quarters of binge watchers (74%) would rather over-serve themselves on TV than on their favorite foods.  This was also the case in Atlanta (82%), L.A. (79%), Philadelphia (79%), Boston (78%), Houston (78%), San Francisco (77%), Dallas (76%), DC (75%), NYC (71%) and Chicago (66%).

Set the Scene

Texas is the exception to the "lights on" rule where it’s lights out for 52% in Houston and 51% in Dallas.  Also, age matters: over half of binge-watchers 18-34 (52%) would prefer to binge-watch laying down while 87% of those 65 and older would prefer to binge-watch sitting up.

Forget Something?

Most binge watchers (52%) have neglected something while in the act: the first activity that gets kicked to the curb is housework (35%); followed by nutrition (23%); and hygiene (9%). Two-thirds of binge-watchers in L.A. (66%) as well as three in five in Houston (61%) and Atlanta (60%) have neglected something while binge-watching as have over half of those in Chicago (57%), Philadelphia (54%), Boston (53%), DC (53%) and Dallas Fort Worth (52%).

 Watchathon is a weeklong, all-access pass for Xfinity TV customers to watch shows On Demand like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Californication, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Parks & Recreation and The Walking Dead. From March 31 to April 6, Xfinity TV customers will have access to more than 5,000 episodes from premium, cable and broadcast networks.

[1]Binge-watching was defined as those respondents who say they watch two or more TV episodes of the same show in one sitting. The survey was of over 2,000 adults nationwide and 200 in each of the top 10 media markets.

About the Survey

This national survey was conducted online within the United States between March 12 and 14, 2014 among 2,022 adults aged 18 and older of whom 1,621 are binge-watchers by Harris Poll on behalf of Comcast via its Quick Query omnibus product. This DMA level data was conducted online within the United States between March 11 and 17, 2014 among 2,102 adults (aged 18 and over) in the top 10 U.S. markets. While over 200 total interviews were conducted in each market, the numbers are smaller for those who binge-watch TV shows (175 in the NYC Metro area, NY; 173 in Los Angeles, CA; 159 in Chicago, IL; 173 in Philadelphia, PA; 173 in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; 173 in San Francisco, CA; 168 in Boston, MA; 174 in Washington, D.C.; 164 in Atlanta, GA and 167 in Houston, TX). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

About Comcast Cable:

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