How Students Stream

Popular streaming services and the UofSC student

by Alizajane Hicks / Garnet & Black

Graphic by Alizajane Hicks.

With the recent advent of Disney+, students across campus have begun to relive their childhoods. From classics like Cinderella to modern hits such as Inside Out, watching Disney+ feels like hopping into a time machine of joy. After talking to someone who had an eight-hour Phineas and Ferb marathon one day, I had a question: how much time do students spend streaming TV shows and movies on an average day? The answers are quite surprising.

How many hours of Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ shows and movies do you watch on average each weekday?
Average: 1.142 hours per day
Highest: 7 hours per day
Total Surveyed: 30 People

What is not surprising is that college students have schedules that vary drastically. It seems like some students never leave Thomas Cooper Library, while others marathon The Office for days on end. This variation in schedule intensity is observable in the data collected from the survey. Some students averaged no time streaming during a weekday, while others averaged two, three or even seven hours a day. That’s right: seven hours of TV a day.

This response from a peer was such a significant outlier that I needed proof before accepting such an outlandish claim. Seven hours each weekday is almost a full-time job! He pulled out his phone, went to “Screen Time” in his settings, and showed that over the past week he had spent over 50 hours on Netflix. When asked how, he explained that he almost always has a TV show on while he is doing other things. Studying? Throw on some Friends in the background. Cooking? Why not watch The Great British Baking Show at the same time? Incredibly, it is possible to watch seven hours of television a day and still pass classes.

While this outlier in the data is extraordinary, there is an interesting story to be told in the mundane, regular responses as well. In this survey, 90% of respondents claimed to average an episode or more of television each weekday. Though a twenty minute episode may not be a huge time commitment, it is significant that this many students are consuming visual media on a streaming platform daily. Some people will argue that this means that 90% of students are wasting at least twenty minutes of their precious time each day to mindlessly stare at a television screen. However, visual media has significantly more merit than this pessimistic view acknowledges.

The art of storytelling has been a part of our culture for millennia and is certainly beneficial to our society. Few people will claim that it is a waste of time to read and enjoy The Great Gatsby, The Iliad or the Harry Potter series. The stories shape the reader as he or she is immersed in a new world. For example, Shakespeare’s classic plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet entertained crowds of thousands by transporting them to another reality. The stories were not only entertaining, but they were also literary masterpieces that impart wisdom about the human condition. Streaming a movie or a show gives the viewer a glimpse into the art of storytelling that is unique to our time. Being immersed in a quality television series, such as Breaking Bad, allows viewers to analyze art in the form of visual media. The beauty and merit of other art forms is present on streaming services in shows and movies with well-crafted plots and complex characters.

It is clear that students are watching a lot of television, but how are they watching it? Are they watching with an analytical eye to learn and perceive beauty? Or are they simply zoning out and gaining nothing from the experience? As you watch movies and shows, be an active viewer by analyzing and learning. Soak in the beauty of the visual art so that your time is not spent in vain.