'Box set Britain': Millions skip sleep to binge-watch TV

Image source, Jojo Whilden/Netflix
Image caption,
Orange is the New Black was the top show on streaming services at the end of 2016

About 10 million Britons have skipped sleep or made themselves tired the next day because they were binge-watching TV, new research suggests.

More than half of British adults watch more than one episode of the same show back-to-back at least once a month.

Of those, a third - almost 10 million - admit they have missed sleep or become tired as a result, while a quarter say they have neglected household chores.

Media watchdog Ofcom did the research into what it called "box set Britain".

Scott Bryan, TV editor at BuzzFeed UK, thinks it's simply down to people being unable to resist temptation.

"The old days of having a TV schedule that used to dictate when the drama started and ended is long gone," he told the BBC.

"Now it's hard not to follow on that temptation, especially when the next episodes are available straight away."

Orange is the New Black was the most popular show on subscription streaming services in the UK between October and December 2016.

Image source, Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

Top 10 subscription streaming shows (Oct-Dec 2016)

  1. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
  2. Marvel's Luke Cage (Netflix, pictured)
  3. The Grand Tour (Amazon)
  4. Narcos (Netflix)
  5. Breaking Bad (Netflix)
  6. Stranger Things (Netflix)
  7. The Crown (Netflix)
  8. The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)
  9. Lucifer (Amazon)
  10. American Horror Story (Netflix)

Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom, said: "Technology has revolutionised the way we watch TV. The days of waiting a week for the next episode are largely gone, with people finding it hard to resist watching multiple episodes around the house or on the move.

"But live television still has a special draw, and the power to bring the whole family together in a common experience."

Social media is another reason why Scott Bryan believes live TV will continue to draw in viewers.

"The Great British Bake Off and Twitter were perfect companions as people were using it for jokes and references," he said. "That commentary was like watching it with a mate."

Findings in the broadcasting regulator's Communications Market Report include:

  • Among over-16s, 55% of the population watch more than one episode of the same programme in the same sitting at least once a month
  • That proportion rises to 82% for viewers aged 16-24 - and more than one in 10 in this age group say they binge-watch every day
  • Among 16-24s, almost half (47%) say they have taken action to cut back on binge-watching in some way
  • BBC iPlayer was the most popular on-demand service among adults, used by 63% - followed by ITV Hub (40%), YouTube (38%) and Netflix (31%)
  • 91% of people still watch live broadcast TV every week - but the viewing time has dropped 14% since 2010
  • There's a growing age gap. Over-64s watched an average of 5 hours 44 minutes of broadcast TV per day in 2016, up 50 minutes from 2006
  • In contrast, 16-24s watched 1 hour 54 minutes a day - down 41 minutes since 2006

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