Netflix Survey Shows Erosion Between Private, Public Viewing

After studying when, where and how people consume its content, Netflix found in its most recent data that 67 percent of U.S. users are now watching content not in their living room, but out in the world. The practice has been dubbed “Netflixing in Public.” In a sense, this isn’t new. In 2015, the Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Americans thought it was fine for people to use their cellphones while walking down the street and 75 percent also approved of using them on public transportation.

Wired reports that the growth of connectivity feeds into this trend, as well as a recently added Netflix feature that “allowed folks to download video for when they’re out of range, something that’s no doubt upped the amount of video people are watching in the mall or at the airport.” Netflix director of product innovation Eddy Wu confirmed that the feature “has given users the freedom to watch their favorite movies and shows wherever they want.”

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Netflix’s most recent data — gained from over 37,000 responses to a global survey — also found that “44 percent of the respondents reported that they’d caught someone snooping on their screen, and 22 percent were embarrassed by what they were watching,” as well that “11 percent of those surveyed had a movie or TV show spoiled because they peeked at someone else’s screen in public.”

The data also highlights “how much rabid phone usage has completely eroded the line between public and private.” Netflix also learned that “35 percent of those who binge in public say they’ve been interrupted by someone who wanted to talk about what they were watching.” Netflix apparently did not ask, however, if “any of them was bothered by the interruption, but chances are if they had been streaming in public for a while they were probably used to it.”

Wired points out that, “fans still think of watching their favorite thing as a group event, whether consumed at home or elsewhere, it’s just that smartphones have evolved our ideas where public spaces end and personal spaces begin.”