Are fans of TV series addicts or control freaks?

Avid watchers of television and streaming series are often portrayed as hooked to their screens and completely passive. But is that a fair assessment? According to a new study, viewers actually control what they watch in a manner more akin to how people manage their reading habits than their television viewing. Researcher Dina Rasolofoarison from the Dauphine Recherches en Management laboratory, and Stephanie Feiereisen, associate professor at the Montpellier Business School (MBS), delved into this world.

With cinemas and theatres closed, and little or no live sporting events, viewership of television and streaming series since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic has risen by 20% compared to the previous year.1 Many people even binge watch episodes into the small hours, perhaps finding a moment of respite that helps them get through these challenging times.

Yet denouncing the apathy of screen addicts fails to get to the bottom of this widespread phenomenon. To gain a better understanding of this behaviour, my colleagues Stephanie Feiereisen, Cristel Russell, Hope Jensen Schau, and I conducted a study2 based on a body of personal accounts3 from sources including fan forum sites, viewing logbooks and interviews. The study helped us categorise the different habits of series lovers, who turned out to be far more proactive than initially expected.

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