Research Nugget 2

Stone, J. (2014, June 30). Binge-Watching ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘House Of Cards,’ ‘Game Of Thrones’ Is The New Normal For TV Fans. . Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link
The title of the article says it all. Binge-watching has become the standard viewing practice for an ever growing number of viewers. Surveys indicate that binge-watching carries less social stigma than last year, and show runners are taking the hint. Producers of television are beginning to tailor their shows to an audience that will view their show between a single day or a month. Binge-watching, yet again, takes the place of catching up on shows so viewers can talk about series with their friends.
“Of the 15,196 respondents, 91% said that binge-watching TV shows is a common behavior and 40% admitted binge-watching a show within a single week. Only a third of those polled said “binge-watching” is a negative term, compared to 53% who said the same in 2013.”
A growing number of people binge-watch television shows. This not only serves to remove the stigma associated with a sedentary activity, but enforces the importance of consuming media honestly. An admission that binge-watching is a habit linked to 91% of a survey is a step forward in media consumption.
“A number of viewers said they watched to keep up with a show, to be able to participate in conversations in their social circle, because their scheduled only permitted watching at certain times, and also because watching so many episodes at once makes the sometimes complicated plotlines that much easier to follow.”
This reinforces a point made by a number of authors on this subject. One of the primary uses of binge-watching is catching up. In our day and age, when life has become much more hectic and planned, it is not always possible to see an episode as it airs. And in our information fueled world, being left out of the loop is close to social suicide. Being able to form your viewings around one’s schedule is an important step forward.
Gortari, F. B., Rastrollo, M. B., Gea, A., Cordoba, J. N., & Toledo, E. (2014, June 25). Watching too much TV may increase risk of early death in adults. . Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link

The report done by the American Heart Association indicates that a sedentary lifestyle is highly destructive and may lead to premature death. The study showed a link between higher rates of television viewing and a greater likelihood of premature death. As the population continues to age, a more sedentary lifestyle becomes common; this will lead to a greater chance of premature death. The AHA recommends a base level of exercise each week to fight the effects of binge-watching.

“Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors,” said Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., the study’s lead author and professor and chair of the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. “Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality.”

Needless to say, staying in place for extended periods of time is intensely unhealthy. As television increases in popularity and viewership, an already popular form of sedentary behavior will continue to grow unchecked. As Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez is quick to point out, a tentative link between television watching as a sedentary activity, and a higher mortality rate, are easy to point out.

“The risk of death was twofold higher for participants who reported watching three or more hours of TV a day compared to those watching one or less hours. This twofold higher risk was also apparent after accounting for a wide array of other variables related to a higher risk of death.”

“Researchers found no significant association between the time spent using a computer or driving and higher risk of premature death from all causes. Researchers said further studies are needed to confirm what effects may exist between computer use and driving on death rates, and to determine the biological mechanisms explaining these associations”

The following seem to indicate a contradiction or sorts. The first represents an increase in death due to sedentary activities for extended periods of time, confirming what was already stated. However, the second nugget excludes computers as a medium through which binge-watching can be achieved. Researchers do admit to a decided lack of certainty when it comes to this topic, so I will wait for their correction before further scrutiny of their research.

Devasagayam, R. MEDIA BINGEING: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INFLUENCES. Once Retro Now Novel Again, p. 56-59. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Link
The study explored the effects of binge-watching media on a number of age groups, and their reactions to said media. Viewers ranged from ages 17 to 70, with most focus groups reacting differently to stimuli. Older participants viewed shows as background noise primarily, whereas younger participants openly admitted to watching season of a show in a single day multiple times. Age seemed the primary factor in this survey, as no indication of income level, location, or social status entered into the survey. Findings suggest that companies are seeking to create “addict-viewers” to increase profits, an ethical dilemma with which the author struggles. Their preliminary findings indicate a relationship of dependence between provider and viewer, designed by media corporations, and that these tactics are working.
“Recent developments of internet media platforms
such as Netflix and Hulu have shown a profitable
market made up of media bingers. The latest attempt to
capitalize on this group was made by the internet media
company Netflix with their release House of Cards.
This is the first documented, multi episode series
designed to be viewed in one sitting (Stelter 2013).
Creators eliminated the common flashbacks and
recapping segments found at the beginning of
following episodes. Instead, they assume that viewers
are aware of the show’s happenings at every point
during the thirteen episode release (Stelter 2013).
People who are for this style of watching say the ease
of continuation allows for a more engrossing and
satisfying experience (Riccio 2013). Viewers can
commit to their couches and watch without the
irritating inconvenience of commercials and weekly
breaks between episodes (Ricco 2013). Do consumers
actually realize that they are bingeing? What are some
factors that may lead to media bingeing?”
This tells us that Netflix is marketing to the binge-watcher. Designing a show around the idea that it will be consumed in as short an amount of time the viewer has is revolutionary. It also doesn’t pander to the viewer by recapping episodes that were quite literally viewed moments before. This system assumes an intelligent addict, one who has the time to devote to a show. It’s implementation represents, as previously mentioned, a relationship in which companies like Netflix are the dealer, and we, the viewers, are junkies.
“The push of companies to develop a market of
bingers and addicts certainly presents an ethical
dilemma. Recent updates to viewing programs have
created “post-play” features that automatically play the
next episode in a series (Chatila 2013). Viewers don’t
have to physically move to switch to another episode.
Content providers appear to be encouraging people to
binge unhealthily in return for increased revenues.
Again, this is not perceived to be negative in society’s
eyes. Although media companies are purposely
creating shows that form addictive habits in their
viewers, few people seem to see a problem with it.
Popular press articles largely encourage viewers to
binge with promises of a better viewing experience
(Riccio 2013). An easier understanding of characters,
ability to find small plot developments and a more in
depth analysis of show events are all reasons suggested
in these articles.”
Binge-watching, if you read the article, is intended to increase profits. Content providers are kind enough to add a feature that continues play without need of moving, thereby removing the exercise gained from moving one’s fingers on the remote, controller, keyboard, etc. The promise of a better viewer experience holds the benefit of more content absorption, but the detractor of slowing killing the viewer.
And thus we must get to the crux of the issue, is binge-watching good or bad? The authors seem to agree that binge-watching is a slippery slope,  benefiting companies more than the viewer. With health risks from a sedentary lifestyle, and a system design to create dependence and addiction, the last two authors recognize the injury this practice has done to viewers. However, the first author, and in part the third, focused in on an important note: Are viewers happy? The answer is unequivocally yes, and isn’t that all we can ask for from Netflix?

P.S. Please forgive the formatting, I have no idea why it did this

One thought on “Research Nugget 2”

  1. Hey there, frisketmcbisket! (Best username ever).

    I’m Laura, one of your librarians. What a cool topic! I thought I would toss out a suggestion for you. A couple of the sources you’ve listed here are news articles or press release-type things that are summarizing a study. One of the best things about finding articles like these is that they can lead you to and give you some sense of understanding of the the real study itself, which is better to cite when you write up your inquiry project.

    By citing the original study as opposed to the article that summarizes it, you avoid the ‘whisper game’ : “I’m saying that this article said that THAT article said…” … that kind of thing.

    The great news is that usually these summary articles give you enough info about the original study to track it down. They’re often not available for free, and that’s where VCU Libraries comes in. So, for example, the article you cited titled “Watching too much TV may increase risk of early death in adults” gives a couple of hints. We know that the actual author of the study is Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez and that it was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. I did a little detective work and it turns out that the full study is available for free online! That doesn’t always happen, and when it doesn’t, VCU Libraries can almost always get the article for you.

    If you have questions about tracking anything down, let me know! –Laura (lwgariepy@vcu.edu)

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