Sunday October 29, 2017

Binge Racing: the hottest trend in streaming TV

Netflix has coined a new term for those who watch entire seasons of programming in 24 hours: "Binge Racers."

Netflix has coined a new term for those who watch entire seasons of programming in 24 hours: "Binge Racers."

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By Kent Hoffman

Last week on Spark, we thought it was time to slow down.

We looked back on a story we did in 2011 about the Norweigian craze of Slow TV after discovering new and even *slower* programming, called "Watching Rocks Hamilton"

But while we were celebrating a slower pace by talking rock-watching, one story raced past us.

Netflix has introduced a new term to the cultural lexicon. Binge Racer.

Yes, "Binge Racers" are people who binge-watch an entire series within TWENTY-FOUR HOURS of its release. Yikes, people!

According to Netflix, 8.4 million subscribers have binge-raced, and that number is on the rise. The number of binge racers increased by more than 20 times from 2013 to 2016.

According to a company press release, "before you assume that racers are just basement-dwelling couch potatoes, know that for these super fans, the speed of watching is an achievement to be proud of and brag about." 

And not to brag here,  but oh Canada: we are the top binge racing country. The top! Our friends in Norway, the home of Slow TV, sit at number five.

But does this analysis of how people watch Stranger Things and other programs on Netflix mean that binge racing is the new trend?

To answer that, we turn to Stephen Hawking, who knows a thing or two about our perception of time. This week the University of Cambridge made his 1966 PhD thesis "Properties of Expanding Universes" freely available online. On the very first day the paper was posted, it crashed the university's open-access repository.

Cambridge knew there'd be a lot of interest in Hawking's 1966 thesis, but certainly no one expected that fans of his work would be binge racing it.

Oh and spoiler alert, he doesn't mention slow TV, watching rocks or binge racing. Even once.

Kent Hoffman is a producer on Spark.