"Just One More Episode: The Culture of Netflix Binging" (The Pauw Wow)

The Pauw Wow (Saint Peter's University Student Newspaper); Published Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Pauw Wow (Saint Peter's University Student Newspaper); Published Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

As she lays on the couch being enraptured by the puzzling and gripping plot of Lost, a television show about a group of people who crash land on a mysterious island, her eyelids become heavy and she feels the effects of sleep start to settle on her body. She turns off the Wii console in her living room and goes to bed where she continues to watch Lost on her laptop while sitting on her bed. As the excitement of the show rises, so does her body’s need for sleep. She closes the laptop, turns off her lights, and lies in bed, with Lost still playing on her tablet. Soon again, she becomes too tired to continue watching on her tablet, so she instead goes to her iPhone to watch Lost until the need for sleep finally takes her over.

The rest of the Lost episode plays unknowingly to her as she sleeps, most likely dreaming of the enthralling television show she binge watches while she is awake.

The specific scenario happened to Elizabeth Callahan, a senior nursing student at Saint Peter’s University, but also happens to many people across the country who have become part of the Netflix binge-watching phenomenon.

Other than Lost, Callahan watches Orange is the New Black, Doctor Who, and Grey’s Anatomy. While she mainly watches television shows, she said that “the movies have gotten better”, so she started watching more of those, including Boondock Saints, Runaway Bride, and Waking Ned Devine.

“I definitely watch about 7 to 8 hours of Netflix a week,” said Jamie Keller, a Educational Administration grad student at Saint Peter’s University. Some of his favorite things on Netflix are There Will Be Blood, Zoolander, House of Cards, and Scandal.

Netflix was founded in 1997 and has become the biggest company for streaming television and movies with 29.2 million subscribers who have clocked in a total of 2 billion hours of television and movies with their streaming services alone, according to StatisticBrain.com.

As of now, Netflix offers unlimited streaming for $7.99 a month and optional plans to rent DVDs and Blu-Rays by mail with additional costs. In the first quarter of 2013 alone, Netflix made $1 billion dollars in revenue. Currently, Netflix accounts for one-third of all Internet traffic in the North American region.

Other companies have tried to challenge the supremacy of Netflix, but none have come close so far. Hulu Plus, a streaming service similar to Netflix but with more updated content and trailers, currently has 4 million subscribers and earned $695 million in revenue in 2012. This information was announced by the company itself at NewFronts, earlier this year.

“I have both Netflix and Hulu Plus,” said Callahan. “But I usually only use Hulu Plus if it is not on Netflix.”

Amazon Instant Video, Aereo, and iTunes are other services vying for a slice of Netflix’s massive Internet traffic.

Redbox, a DVD, Blu-Ray, and video game rental service that functions through vending machine kiosks, has been growing in popularity and currently dispenses 1,600 discs per minute across the United States, according to StatisticBrain.com. In total, they have sold 2 billion discs since the company started in 2002. Redbox has also teamed with Verizon to create a streaming service called Redbox Instant, which offers 4 DVD credits at its kiosks and streaming, but has yet to match Netflix’s popularity

While Netflix is popular throughout the country, some students on Saint Peter’s University campus have some issues fully appreciating the Netflix experience.

“I do not really watch Netflix while on campus,” said Matthew Holowienka, a student in his junior year at Saint Peter’s University who studies Communications. “It is partially because I am busy, but I also find that the Wi-Fi here is pretty slow sometimes and I get tired of waiting for the videos to buffer.”

When Holowienka goes home on the weekends, he will usually binge watch Law & Order: SVU and Bob’s Burgers.

Netflix has become a powerful force in modern culture and has consumed many waking hours, both on campus and across the country. (Link)