16 Aug 2023DisruptorsAre Gen Y and Z over binge-watching TV?

The era of binge-watching may soon be coming to an end. Ideal for hangover Saturdays, lazy Sundays, mid-week entertainment fests or an escape from reality, binge-watching was Gen Y and Zer's go-to way to savour their favourite TV shows – but change may be in the air as the binge-watch effect wanes.

Matheus LockMatheus Lock is a senior cultural analyst in the cultural intelligence team at Canvas8. He has a PhD in political sciences and a background in qualitative research, with a keen interest in technology, politics, urban culture, and science. When not working, you can find Matheus walking around London to discover new things and secret places or in cafés discussing politics and philosophy with friends.

Gen Y and Z may be known for many things, one of them being their insatiable appetite for binge-worthy TV shows. Whether sitting on the sofa in front of a big screen, tucked up in bed with their laptops, or crouched over their phones on a packed train during their daily commute, younger generations have grown fond of binge-watching their favourite TV shows.

But this type of viewing pleasure seems to be waning. According to one study, 53% of Gen Z and Y prefer to get content all at once instead of waiting for a new show. That's a 10% drop from 2018 when 63% of young consumers were self-proclaimed binge-watchers.

As weekly tuning-in sessions gain momentum, is the binge-watching TV era really over?

With the success of slow-launching shows like HBO's The Last of US, Netflix's Outer Banks and Amazon Primes The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, people are shifting gears and turning to appointment TV which is in tune with a slowed-down pace of life.

Trends like ‘Bare Minimum Mondays’ highlight an increasing hunger among Zers to disconnect from fast-paced digital worlds and reconnect with IRL experiences, and #nichetiktok and #corecore shine a light on a generational shift away from the hyper-accelerated world of capitalism.

This vibe shift is welcoming at a time when the chaos of people's current lived experiences is causing them to step back and reassess, making way for the chilled nature of tuning into shows on a weekly basis.

When putting new viewing habits under a microscope, however, research shows that a quarter of Americans wait for a show's finale before they start watching. On the other side of the pond, two-fifths of Britons would rather wait for a show to upload all its episodes before they begin to watch.

What is driving this change is a subtle shift in streaming platforms' business strategies. By slow-launching shows, streamers hope to build suspense and keep viewers engaged as new series launches battle for a spot in the limelight in an already overcrowded attention economy.

This strategy does have risks as people's interest might fade, but as audiences adapt to a new rhythm of streaming culture, binge-watching behaviours look set to stick around for the foreseeable future.