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Day 1

How To Stop Binging On Netflix

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“When you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night. We’re competing with sleep, on the margin.”

– Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix

‘Binge-watching’, as Netflix defines it, is watching at least one season of a show from start to finish within 7-days.

These are the top 10 most ‘binge-watched’ shows on Netflix...

  1. Breaking Bad – 10 hours, 10 minutes
  2. Orange is the New Black – 11 hours, 50 minutes
  3. Stranger Things – 6 hours, 40 minutes
  4. Prison Break – 15 hours, 20 minutes
  5. Narcos – 8 hours, 20 minutes
  6. House of Cards – 10 hours, 50 minutes
  7. The Inbetweeners – 2 hours, 30 minutes
  8. American Horror Story – 11 hours
  9. Peaky Blinders – 5 hours, 40 minutes
  10. Pretty Little Liars – 15 hours, 40 minutes

The time shown alongside each show is the approximate running time of the show’s first season.

On-demand video services like Netflix are excellent at capturing our attention and holding it. Often they deserve our attention with entertaining and informative content. But if Netflix’s excellent content and nerve-wracking cliffhangers wasn’t enough to keep us hooked, Netflix also uses some dirty tricks.

Netflix’s algorithms are trained to keep our eyes on screen. The trusting amongst us say they present shows we are most likely to enjoy. But there is no evidence to suggest that – we are all guilty of watching things we don’t enjoy.

The average time spent browsing before selecting a programme to watch is 18 minutes. All those choices Netflix presents us with, without much in the way of filtering them, leaves us with analysis paralysis.

Additionally, have you ever noticed that the show artwork changes? According to Netflix…

The artwork may highlight an actor that you recognize, capture an exciting moment like a car chase, or contain a dramatic scene that conveys the essence of a movie or TV show. If we present that perfect image on your homepage (and as they say: an image is worth a thousand words), then maybe, just maybe, you will give it a try.

Another tactic to hold our attention.

Strategies

Here are a handful of useful strategies for avoiding your next unwanted Netflix marathon.

Turn off autoplay

Once a show has finished, Netflix starts automatically playing the next show. If you’re not quick enough to the remote control, you'll be through the next episode before you know it. Fortunately you can turn off autoplay.

  1. Navigate to your Account
  2. Click 'Playback Settings'
  3. Uncheck the option to Play next episode automatically.

Decide what you want to watch before

Netflix’s show filtering tools are fairly poor – it's part of the reason we spent so long browsing before choosing something. Fortunately there are 3rd-party services out there that allow you to search and filter the Netflix catalogue like InstantWatcher.com. InstantWatcher.com allows you to filter by IMDB rating, runtime, release year and genre amongst other options.

  1. Take a moment to use a service like InstantWatcher.com before going onto Netflix.
  2. Choose what you’d like to watch
  3. Then use Netflix ‘Search’ to type the name of the show.

Keep a watch list

Netflix offers the ability to create a watch list – a useful feature for recording the shows you’d like to watch in the future and reducing the time spent browsing. However, shows added to the watch list are data Netflix can potentially use in marketing to entice you back. For example, Netflix could send you an email with shows they know you want to watch (because you’ve told them).

We recommend keeping a watch list outside of Netflix. Use your favourite notes app (Evernote, Apple Notes, OneNote) or just pen and paper. A watch list outside of Netflix allows family and friends to contribute and when you are viewing together you are able to see what others would like to watch.

Set an alarm

Intending to only watch one episode of a show? Set an alarm on your phone for the duration of the show. Place your phone across the room so you’ll be forced to get up to turn it off. This will cancel any ‘Netflix Momentum’ you have.

Erase Your Viewing History

Once a week we suggest purging your viewing history. This will keep Netflix ‘stupid’ without showing you shows it knows you like to watch.

  1. Navigate to your account
  2. Scroll to the ‘My profile’ section
  3. Click ‘Viewing activity’
  4. Here you will see everything you have watched, click the ‘X’ next to a show to remove it
  5. If you wish you delete a whole series from your history click ‘Remove series?’

Further reading

Author

Fraser Deans

Today's article was written by Fraser Deans. Fraser is a Digital Product Designer and founder of The Wholesome Technology Company, focused on practicing and spreading ideas for living well with technology.

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