The purpose of the study is to dive into various binge-watching habits of Netflix users amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers find themselves amidst the COVID-19 lockdown with more free time to indulge in these viewing habits. This study investigates motivational factors, amount of media consumption and negative attributes associated with binge-watching on Netflix during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This study has employed an exploratory research design and obtained primary data via an online survey using a semistructured questionnaire. Convenience sampling has been used to choose a sample (n = 105) of Netflix binge-watchers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both sample selection and survey administration have been done through social media messaging services owing to the COVID-19 lockdown measures.
The present study has examined the motivations behind nonstop Netflix usage among consumers. This phenomenon with respect to the Uses and Gratifications Theory (UGT) has shed light on binge-watching. According to this theory, consumers of digital media have specific wants and needs, and they continuously seek to satisfy via mass media activities (Elliott and Quattlebaum, 1979). Multiple studies have used this theory as a foundation to investigate binge-watching. While exploring college students, Panda and Pandey (2017) have focused on six sociocognitive motivations and three marketing-related reasons for spending more time binge-watching. Moreover, Susanno et al. (2019) have also used the UGT while investigating motivational factors behind spending more time binge-watching among Netflix subscribers in Jakarta, Indonesia. For this study, it is expected that the factors that incline consumers toward nonstop Netflix usage might be similar to the sources above. Moreover, having more free time due to the COVID-19 lockdown is likely to drive motivation among consumers.
The target group of respondents in the study is Netflix binge-watchers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. Analysis of authentic secondary sources revealed that no database exists for Netflix binge-watchers in the country as a sampling frame. Since the target population size is unknown, the use of probability sampling techniques for determining the representative sample size was hindered. Furthermore, strict COVID-19 lockdown measures also made it difficult to employ probability sampling techniques. Therefore, to minimize health risks and follow lockdown protocols, the convenience sampling technique was chosen to select the sample size for the study. It is a certain type of nonprobability sampling technique that focuses on primary data collection from conveniently available members to contribute to the study (Michalos, 2014). The convenience sampling technique is a simple, proven and effective research method that involves exploration (Malhotra, 2019; Saunders and Lewis, 2012; Zikmund et al., 2009; Zikmund, 2000; Kothari, 1985). Social media is a hub for tech-savvy individuals. Such people are expected to be users of technological services such as Netflix, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. Therefore, the study determined a sample size from Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh via Facebook since it is the most popular social media channel in Bangladesh with 35m users in early 2020 (Sultan and Sharmin, 2020). Upon initial analysis, many of the Facebook friends (consisting of peers and colleagues) of the first author were found to exhibit tech-savvy behavior. This included posting and sharing content about online streaming, TV shows and so on. It was evident that these individuals were potential Netflix binge-watchers during the pandemic. However, little to no activity of this sort was observed among the Facebook friends of the corresponding author. Thus, the first author's Facebook friends were initially targeted. Ultimately, the 307 Facebook friends of the first author were asked target requirement questions (Appendix) via individual chat on Facebook Messenger. Through this process, 166 binge-watchers of Netflix were identified. However, 149 of them were willing to participate in the survey. Eventually, after a follow-up in one week, 105 participants successfully filled up the survey. The response rate was 70% for the study. Fincham (2008) reported that a 60% response rate should be the goal for researchers, while 70% is also possible through follow-ups. Hence, the study did not seek any further follow-ups since it reached more than an acceptable response rate.
The data for this research have been obtained from 105 Netflix binge-watchers from different age groups and backgrounds residing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Owing to the COVID-19 lockdown and quarantine situation, an online survey constructed on Google Forms had been deployed to the participants, and their responses have been recorded accordingly. For data analysis, Microsoft Excel has been used to determine various aspects such as mean and standard deviation. It has also been used to calculate the total number of hours spent behind binge-watching per month. In the following analysis, the study has presented key insights provided by the target group of respondents.
The majority of the respondents have reported using smartphones to binge-watch on Netflix amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings of the study are different from other secondary sources. Ofcom (2015) has reported that in the United Kingdom, on-demand content has been viewed by the online population on multiple platforms such as computers (33%), tablets (23%) and smartphones (21%). Furthermore, Walton-Pattison et al. (2016) have highlighted that only 8% of their respondents in the United Kingdom have used smartphones for binge-watching, while 75% of them have used televisions. It is evident that big screen devices are preferred in a developed setting while smaller, portable devices are favored in a developing context.
In accordance with the UGT, the study can concur that binge-watchers feel most gratified through the vast content library on Netflix. Watching a variety of shows gives them fulfilment, which offers relief from boredom and stress caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. Previously, other researchers have also applied this theory but found different gratifications. For instance, Steiner and Xu (2020) have found relaxation and cultural inclusion to be the most significant gratifications of binge-watching among TV and online viewers. Likewise, Pittman and Sheehan (2015) have deduced that Netflix users are highly gratified due to the engaging storylines presented by TV shows. Altogether, the present study further adds to the UGT. It has uncovered new gratifications regarding the new phenomenon known as binge-watching on Netflix amidst the COVID-19 lockdown.
Overall, with more free time during the COVID-19 lockdown, it is clear that there is a strong need among the respondents to escape from boredom and stress. Binge-watching a wide range of shows may be relieving, but it is also ushering in higher levels of addiction and anxiety. Habitual control over nonstop Netflix usage is a must to combat time wastage in the middle of a Covid-19 lockdown.
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