Box set binges: 45% of Brits are happy to watch for 4 hours or more

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
January 04, 2017, 12:21 PM UTC

YouGov reveals Britain’s binge watching ‘stamina'

With the introduction of on-demand TV services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video a few years ago a new cultural phenomenon arose – binge watching. The ready availability of multiple seasons of a TV show meant that whereas previously viewers would have to wait for a week to watch the next episode, now they could watch them back-to-back.

Binge watching is now a well-established practice. But how strong is Britain’s bingeing ‘stamina’ – how long can people watch a TV show for in one sitting and still enjoy it?

The largest number of people would only enjoy watching the same show for a relatively short amount of time. Close to half of people (45%) say they could handle between two and four one-hour episodes of a TV show in one go, with a three hour binge is the most popular option at 19%.

About a third of Brits (31%) would happily binge for longer than this (five hours or more), including a hardcore 7% who could go for more than 10 hours. Just 5% of people overall are anti-bingeing, saying that they could only tolerate watching a single one hour episode in one sitting.

How long a person is willing to binge for depends on their age. Young people are the most likely to spend a long time watching the same show. Almost half (48%) of 18-24 year olds say they could watch more than four hours in one sitting, including as many as 15% who could happily watch more than 10 hours in one go. In fact, the more than 10 hours option is the second most common answer given by young people.


This is perhaps unsurprising for a generation that has grown up taking on-demand TV for granted. But older generations – those who have suffered through the indignities of terrestrial television, dial up internet speeds and having to actually rewind VHS cassettes – can be less receptive to the appeal of marathon viewing.

People aged 25-39 are still relatively close to the viewing preferences of their younger peers, although they are slightly more likely to prefer a shorter viewing. This trend continues for those aged 40-59 (whose preferences very closely reflect the preferences of Britain as a whole).

The oldest age group – those who are 60 or older – is the least likely to spend much time binge watching a show. More than six in ten people in this age group would watch no more than four hours in a single stint (including 9% who could only watch a single hour). Just 15% say they could watch anything for more than four hours.

Photo: iStockphoto

See the full results here