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The growing trend of ‘speed watching’ among Millennials and Generation Zs

Nowadays, we are living in a fast-paced society where younger generations want to use their time as efficiently as possible while juggling a bunch of responsibilities and leisure activities all at once. The desire to binge-watch many TV shows while doing other tasks has dragged Gen Zs and Millennials into the realm of a unique digital video consumption habit known as “speed watching”. This modern method of watching videos at a speed of approximately 1.5 to 2x faster than the normal duration to absorb the ever-growing pile of digital content in lesser time is the new term for binge-watching.

Speed watching

To know more about this trend, here are some of the important details that you should know:

Speed-watching: What is it, and when did it start?

Also known as skim-watching, speed watching is the term for watching content at different speeds — usually from normal up to 2x or beyond. This practice was invented by Alexander Theoharis, a law student in Seattle, who unexpectedly pressed a button on his laptop while watching a TV show. In a 2014 interview made in Seattle Times, Theoharis was watching a series on a media player called VLC when suddenly, he pressed a button that accelerated the time of the video up to 1.1 times the normal speed.

Today, there is a growing number of digital platforms that are rolling out different speed buttons and controls to cater to modern binge-watchers. Aside from VLC, YouTube and Google offer speed adjustment parameters and add-ons, too. Meanwhile, Netflix has introduced a playback-control feature that allows viewers to customize the speed of the content on the platform.

Why do people speed-watch?

The answer is very simple: to save time. Speed watching is convenient, especially for people with hectic schedules, as it allows them to watch a 2-hour show in an hour or less without missing any highlight of the story. In an article about speed watching, video editor Riccardo Fusetti said that he has been using the playback feature for two years as a means of saving time.

“I only watch videos that are ‘exposition heavy’ that are easy to follow and not very technical and where the visuals don’t matter. I also have to add that I rarely go to 2X, I most likely will go 1.5X”, he said in the article.

In a survey made by Conference Genie, Looking at technological devices was reported to be a time-wasting activity among young people, and four out of five 18-24 years of age waste time with it. As they discover time manipulation, the desire to stop wasting their precious hours on digital content continues to inflate. Well, speeding up video is not just an efficiency hack but a pleasurable one, too; younger people were also found to be less bored and frustrated at shows that are wasting their time with filler scenes.

Based on a Teller Report, 40% of young audiences recently engaged with speed watching. The practice consists of consuming video or audio content at an accelerated rate and the possibilities are just about limitless: YouTube offers speed adjustment parameters, Google Chrome offers an add-on that enables Netflix subscribers to do the same, and the VLC application also has the same features. The main goal of speed-watching is time-saving. For example, the entire season of Game of Thrones can be finished in six and a half hours instead of eight and a half hours at regular speed, which is an advantage for busy people.

Why do younger people credit this to time performance?

In a recent study conducted by UCLA professors of Psychology, watching videos and lectures at up to twice their actual speed can still help students in retaining sets of information in their brains. Fast-forwarding lengthy videos and lectures can save learners a huge amount of time while getting the same number of details while watching at a normal speed. As people become so dependent on their phones, it’s hard for them to focus on one task for more than 8 seconds. The National Center for Biotechnology Information said that the average attention span of an individual has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013 — a second less than the attention span of a fish (Geez!).

The Technical University of Denmark researchers also added that attention span is narrowing due to the vast amount of information that people have to focus on for short periods. Having a short attention span is one of the downsides of social media due to different access to new information, pushing people to lose their patience in watching at normal speed.


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