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How Binge Watching TV Can Help Drive A Stronger Brand Connection

Posted by SellCheck Team

Binge Watching

We would have written this article sooner, but we were binge-watching...

We’re not alone. On an average day, Netflix’s 117.58 million subscribers watch 140 million hours of content. That’s a ton of TV.  Learning this, we were curious as to why this happens and if we can apply learnings to the creation of marketing communication.

Behavioral insights behind binge-watching can help marketers better understand how people act to drive a stronger Connection for brands.


Binge Watching

As early as the era of Silent Films, serial movies attracted people to movie theaters. Serial films were simplistic plot-driven episodic movies that continued through the 1950s. They usually ended with cliff hangers (sometimes literally) that brought people back to the theater over a period of weeks or years. 

The TV industry adopted this successful format early in its development which continues today to a large extent (something the 16+ year run of Grey’s Anatomy proves).

In 2010, something disrupted this hundred-year habit: Netflix.


With the introduction of video streaming, habitual weekly viewership was given a popcorn butter and salty-fingered nudge now dubbed Binge Watching.

The world has never been the same since all episodes of Orange Is the New Black were released at once. The result? 52% of adults have stayed up all night to binge-watch a show. 

Watching hours and hours of a beloved television show with recognizable characters and formulaic plot lines is enjoyable. Binge-watching is an easy, comfortable, feel-good fix.

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The Science Behind How Our Brains Work

Our time and attention are limited. Our brains have a lot to process.

They are wired to simplify our surroundings to help reduce overload.


When we experience something either directly (first hand) or indirectly (we’ve read about it or watched it) our brains take note and file it away. Later, when we encounter a situation that resembles our simplified version (or chunk of knowledge), our brains leap into a subconscious recognition of the situation.

This recognition breeds familiarity. It may be TV show characters, a familiar structure to a TV show, or images we’ve interacted with before.

In the case of binge-watching, scientists have found that people love binge-watching because it releases dopamine, a chemical responsible for the feelings of happiness that come from doing something enjoyable. The connection to the content - and the fact that each view reinforces existing memory structures built over time - drives much of this enjoyment.

What to Do About It: Driving A Stronger Brand Connection 

While binge-watching is worlds away from shopping, there are implications for marketers. People are trained to recognize specific relevant cues when they are present in any situation. Here are three keys for more effective communication based on learnings from Binge Watching.

  • Be Consistent with Brand Equities. Use known equities to drive recognition. As human beings naturally want to draw comfort from “familiar” interactions. When we recognize a familiar pattern, our brains produce dopamine, which makes us feel better.
  • Build On What Shoppers Already Know. Shoppers will only respond favorably to a message to the extent that they already associate with a brand. A shopper program has to build off the real associations that people have with your brand.
  • Avoid Complexity. Make it easy for viewers to recognize the brand and category. Although it’s essential to provide plenty of value with your content, anything that the brain perceives as challenging to interpret automatically becomes a more time-consuming and frustrating task.

A bonus thought for brands considering “brand refreshes.” Stay familiar enough to trigger and reinforce existing memory structures built over time versus complete overhauls.

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SellCheck helps marketers do their best by providing clarity and confidence through the creative development process. Our "Designing for the Shopper Mindset" Series highlights how to use behavioral insights to be most effective.

SellCheck is a marketing research platform designed to streamline the creative process, produce better marketing, and boost sales.  Why is this important? Ads optimized for selling outperform those that are not by 30% or more.

Contact Chris Bedford ( for more on how we blend shopper expertise and behavioral science to help you better “Design for the Shopper Mindset” or click below...

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Topics: Creative Effectiveness, Tips and Tricks, Insights, Shopper Marketing, Messaging, Behavioral Science


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SellCheck is a marketing research platform designed to streamline the creative process, produce better marketing, and boost sales.

We provide clarity and confidence through the discipline of creative effectiveness.

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