Home / Tech / Netflix execs were once anxious about the term 'binge,' so they tried to make 'marathon' viewing happen instead (NFLX)

Netflix execs were once anxious about the term 'binge,' so they tried to make 'marathon' viewing happen instead (NFLX)

Orange is the New Black

  • Netflix helped enable the rise of binge-watching. But the term itself made some execs anxious when the craze first started taking off, The Hollywood Reporter wrote.
  • “We kept trying to find other verbs to help people through,” said Cindy Holland, vice president of original content at Netflix.
  • “Marathon” viewing was one of the preferred alternatives, a former Netflix exec told Business Insider.
  • It had more positive connotations of health and accomplishment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Netflix’s early breakout original series, including “Orange Is the New Black,” helped prove the model for simultaneous episode releases — and enabled the rise of binge-watching. 

But the term “binge-watching” itself took some getting used to among Netflix executives. 

Back in 2013, when “Orange Is the New Black” premiered, the term still made some people at the company uncomfortable.

“We had some anxiety around the term ‘binge’ and we kept trying to find other verbs to help people through,” Cindy Holland, vice president of original content at Netflix, told the Hollywood Reporter. “But it’s what the media and audience kept coming back with and stuck to, so we just learned to love and accept it.”

One alternative that Netflix preferred was “marathon” viewing, a former Netflix executive, who was at the company at the time, told Business Insider.

Where the term “binge” has been associated with excessive drinking, eating, and, generally over-doing it, “marathon” has more positive connotations of health and accomplishment.

“I don’t like the term ‘binge,’ because it sounds almost pathological,” Todd Yellin, now Netflix’s vice president of product, told The Wall Street Journal in 2012, when the phenomenon was starting to take hold. “‘Marathon’ sounds more celebratory.”

Over time, as Holland said, Netflix learned to embrace the binge. The streaming company has since touted binge-watching on the service by revealing stats on the shows that users binge most and fastest, among other research.

For a deep dive on how Netflix and its rivals are using AI to push their shows and movies, check out this excerpt from Business Insider’s AI series: 

  • Netflix and its rivals are using AI to keep you binge-watching, and experiments like ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ could supercharge their efforts

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