Pretty much everyone is addicted to their phone in some way, but that doesn't just mean obsessing over notifications or almost running into traffic when your group text won't calm down. According to some new data, two thirds of Netflix viewers watch content in public now. The way we watch television and consume content has already changed thanks to streaming platforms, and it's changing yet again as more and more people catch up on their shows outside the comfort of their own homes. And that, in turn, changes the way people act in public.
“Netflixing in public has become a social norm with 60 percent of Americans watching more movies and shows in public this year than last,” says Production Innovation Netflix Director Eddy Wu in an official press release. “The introduction of the Netflix download feature has given users the freedom to watch their favorite movies and shows wherever they want, like during their commute or waiting in line, and for some... that means at work or even in a public restroom." Admit it: you've definitely done that last one.
What's interesting about this statistic is that, not only are we glued to the TV when the TV is our phone, but we're risking all kinds of potential awkward situations in the name of Netflix. "No matter how meticulously we curate our lives on social media," the press release notes, "there’s no filter for laughter or tears in real life." Most of us, the company says, have laughed out loud while watching Netflix in public and 20 percent of viewers say they have cried at a show in public. When you're experiencing content outside of your own home, you're also taking those emotions outside with you.
And that's actually kind of cool. You'd think that watching Netflix in public would make users more isolated and anti-social, but, actually, users are letting their guards down around strangers. Only 22 percent of people surveyed who watch shows in public claim to have been embarrassed by what they were caught watching — usually because it's reality television, according to the survey, not something geeky or graphically sexy — and even then, most folks aren't compelled to stop watching.
There's also a chance you might make a new friend while solo Netflixing on the bus or waiting in line at the bank. More than one in three people say that when they're watching a show in public, someone has interrupted to start a conversation with them about their choice of program. Not only is Netflix everywhere now, but so is the watercooler and the conversation to follow.
The downside to all of this is, of course, spoilers. About 11 percent of those surveyed say that they've been spoiled by someone watching something in public around them. That's not too terrible of a statistic, but it's still a risk. Don't forget to pack your headphones if you're watching outside of your home. Or, if you're the one concerned about being spoiled, maybe invest in some blinders so that you can keep your eyes to yourself. Even with Netflix and every other streaming service at our fingertips in 2017, it's impossible to stay current on all the shows everyone is talking about.
Who among us hasn't turned to Netflix on public transportation or at a coffee shop, or used that sweet in-flight wifi when the plane's only other option was a corny blockbuster? This new data not only proves that watching in public is super common, but that it's not necessarily a bad thing worthy of a Black Mirror cautionary tale. While this brave new world means a risk of getting spoiled, users are taking their "cool" personas off and allowing themselves to laugh, cry, and engage with strangers, all thanks to the power of good storytelling — or maybe just a particularly poignant episode of The Great British Baking Show.