Millions of UK adults say they binge-watch television shows and many say they lose sleep just to keep up with their favourite series.
Four out of five UK adults say they binge-watch television series, an activity that is now likely to be carried out alone, an investigation into consumer habits has found.
Families no longer sit down together to watch a favourite television show, instead viewing is becoming an “increasingly solo activity”, research by Broadcasting regulator Ofcom shows.
Ofcom’s report said catch-up technology such as BBC iPlayer, and subscription services such as Netflix, meant 79% of viewers watch multiple episodes of their favourite pre-recorded shows in a single sitting – despite one-third (32%) of adults saying it resulted in them missing sleep.
One in four (25%) binge-watchers said their habit was driven by the culture of “spoiler alerts”, where widespread access to social media platforms means plots can inadvertently be revealed in group messaging services such as WhatsApp.
Another 16% said they felt under pressure to keep up with the viewing habits of family members and friends.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom consumer group director, said: “The vast majority of people said they found binge-watching relaxing, enjoyable and that they were glad to do it.
“But young people, interestingly, said it gave them something to talk about with their friends.
“What they’re really worried about is that somebody’s going to tell them what’s happened in their favourite series before they get a chance to watch the next episode.”
Figures showed weekly binge-watching was most popular among 12 to 15-year-olds (53% of the age group), compared with just 16% of over-65s.
The average time spent watching television every day dipped by four minutes to three hours and 32 minutes, while the percentage of people watching TV at least once a week continued to drop – with 91.3% the lowest figure in at least a decade.
The Communications Market Report 2017, based on responses from nearly 3,000 people, also found almost half (45%) of adults in the UK said they watch programmes and films by themselves every day, while only 30% said they sit together with family members to watch the same programme on the same device every day.
Speaking anecdotally, Ms Fussell said: “Increasingly, watching TV is a solo activity. People see it as a way of me-time, down-time, during the day and at the end of the day.”