Binge-watching motivates change: Uses and gratifications of streaming video viewers challenge traditional TV research

Emil Steiner, Kun Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, we explore how binge-watching culture and technology are changing the ways viewers understand and interact with television. We propose that the motives and rituals of binge-viewers can be used to expand uses and gratifications (U&G) theory. We conducted qualitative, semi-structured interviews to gather thick descriptions of why people binge-watch, how they binge-watch, and how they feel about binge-watching. The findings indicate that (1) viewers’ primary motivations for binge-watching are catching up, relaxation, sense of completion, cultural inclusion, and improved viewing experience; (2) the portability and navigability of streaming video technology influence binge-watching rituals; and (3) viewers are ambivalent about their binge-watching. Based on the findings, we propose that a viewer attentiveness spectrum is a more accurate descriptor of contemporary TV watching than the passive/active dichotomy. We further argue that the changing motives and rituals of TV viewers can be used to bolster the quantitative surveys often employed in U&G research and to address the lingering criticisms of U&G theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-101
Number of pages20
JournalConvergence
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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