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Binge-watching Britain: Millions choose TV over sleep

CAN'T GET ENOUGH: 8 in 10 adults now watching multiple episodes of their favourite shows in a single sitting

THE UK has become a nation of binge viewers, with eight in ten adults now watching multiple episodes of their favourite shows in a single sitting.

The findings are part of Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report 2017, which reveals stark differences in how older and younger people watch television.

Eight in ten adults in the UK (79 per cent) – or 40 million people – use catch-up technology such as BBC iPlayer, or subscription services such as Netflix, to watch multiple episodes of a series in one sitting, wiping out the wait for next week’s instalment. One third (35 per cent) do so every week, and more than half (55 per cent) do it monthly.

Most binge viewers (70 per cent) find this type of viewing relaxing and enjoyable, and for others it’s an opportunity to discuss with friends (24 per cent). Around a third (32 per cent) of adults admit the temptation to watch another episode has cost them sleep and left them feeling tired.

Binge viewing has such a strong allure that many viewers say they don’t intend to do it, but the pull of the next episode keeps them tuned in. More than seven in ten (74 per cent) say they sometimes watch more than they intend to, while 18 per cent say this always happens.

Speaking on the findings, Stephen van Rooyen, Chief Executive Officer, Sky UK and Ireland, said:

“This year we have seen Sky customers binge-watch like never before, including 17 million downloads of our record-breaking Sky Original Riviera. There have been almost 40 million downloads and streams of Series 1-6 of Game of Thrones across Sky and NOW TV in the past three months alone as viewers race through back-to-back box sets.

"Whether you want to stream live TV on the move or download your latest TV guilty pleasure to watch later on your phone, we bring together the best content in one place that lets customers watch whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want.”

Bingeing is most popular among young people: more than half (53 per cent) of those aged 12-15 enjoy weekly watch-a-thons, compared to just 16 per cent of over-65s. For that older age group, more than half (59 per cent) prefer a traditional release of one episode per week.

The trend has been driven, in part, by the availability of faster home internet speeds, a rise in the number of connected TVs, and increased take-up of smartphones and tablets.

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