How long it takes to binge 'The Office,' 'Game of Thrones,' and 50 other famous TV shows
Netflix pioneered binge-watching after spotting an “inefficiency” in the TV market, according to Business Insider. The media giant entered the streaming market in 2007, initially intending to continue focusing on movies, as it had nearly a decade prior when establishing itself as the world’s first online DVD rental store. However, Netflix officials quickly realized that obtaining and keeping rights to major releases would be a far more difficult task than originally imagined. So, the streaming media provider decided to pivot to TV shows.
Netflix rationalized that television shows, especially sitcoms like “Frasier” and “Seinfeld,” were easy to watch out of order and didn’t require as much of a time commitment from subscribers. Fans could choose to watch one episode or a dozen—as many as fit their schedule—and pick up where they left off without sacrificing continuity. When the company put entire seasons and runs of shows at their customers’ fingertips, Netflix subscribers found that they loved watching shows this way. Binge-watching was born.
Binge-watching has only become more popular as streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have begun creating original content, releasing entire seasons in a single day. While 20 years ago binge-watching a was an uncommon feat, today there are few among TV fans who haven’t spent at least one day binging on a favorite series.
Stacker looked into how long it takes to binge some audience-favorite shows. Working with Bingeclock, Stacker collected data on the total runtimes of 52 popular TV series as of September 2019. From “The Office” to “Game of Thrones” to “Breaking Bad,” find out how many hours of consecutive watching you’d have to do to view every existing episode. Grab your popcorn—it’s a long ride.
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- Time it takes to binge: 4 days, 3 hours
In 2005, a group of Americans was given the task of adapting the British hit “The Office” for American networks. The result was nine seasons of groundbreaking and original comedy; a sitcom that Rolling Stone ranked 48th on its “100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” list, despite NBC’s initial pessimism about the success of the series. Those looking to binge can stream the entire show on Netflix.
Days of Our Lives
- Time it takes to binge: 470 days, 1 hour
It would take you a little under a year-and-a-half of constant watching to binge every episode of “Days of Our Lives.” The soap opera has aired on NBC nearly every weekday since its Nov. 8, 1965, premiere. The soap has lasted for more than 13,000 new episodes. Initially, episodes were 30 minutes long but switched to a full hour in 1975. What remains unchanged, however, is the show’s commitment to storytelling and drama.
The West Wing
- Time it takes to binge: 6 days, 10 hours
Set in the west wing of the White House, “The West Wing,” an American political drama created by Aaron Sorkin, aired on NBC for 7 seasons between 1999 and 2006. The show, which was written on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, is widely regarded as one of the best-written TV shows of all time: The Writer’s Guild of America ranked it #10 on its “101 Best Written TV Series” list.
- Time it takes to binge: 21 hours
Deriving its name from the switched-off screens that surround us every day, “Black Mirror” is a science fiction anthology series that airs on Netflix. Each episode features a new type of technology that brings about some unanticipated consequences. The series also features some of Hollywood’s biggest names, both as actors and writers. In the 21 hours it would take you to watch all five seasons, you could almost swim across the English Channel.
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- Time it takes to binge: 3 days, 2 hours
A defining show of the 1990s, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reportedly only made it on air because star Will Smith owed the IRS $2.8. His financial advisors pushed Smith, who played the title character, to sign on to the show to pay back the sum, despite his lack of acting experience. The gamble quite literally paid off—Smith paid the government everything he owed, and fans loved the show so much they convinced NBC to bring it back for two additional seasons after a near fourth-season cancelation. In the time it takes you to binge all six seasons, you could travel to the moon.
- Time it takes to binge: 5 days, 9 hours
American surgeon and writer H. Richard Hornberger and writer and war correspondent W. C. Heinz in 1968 collaborated on a novel titled “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors” based on Hornberger’s personal Korean War experiences. In 1972 the book, which was first a movie in 1970, inspired an 11-season TV show simply called “M*A*S*H.” Veteran screenwriter Larry Gelbart wrote the pilot in two days for $25,000. Years later, the series finale became the most-watched finale ever with 105.9 million viewers tuning in. “M*A*S*H” is currently available on Hulu for instant binging.
King of the Hill
- Time it takes to binge: 5 days, 7 hours
When it made its debut in 1997, “King of the Hill” was a genuine hit, pulling in 9.5 million viewers in its early seasons. Ten seasons later, Time magazine named it one of the 100 greatest television shows ever. After 13 seasons, the audience for the cartoon about a propane salesman and his family in Arlen, Texas, had shrunk considerably. But still, for many, the finale cemented it as “one of the best family comedies on TV.”
- Time it takes to binge: 4 days, 14 hours
Set to return for its 10th season on Nov. 3, 2019, “Shameless” is set to become Showtime’s longest-running scripted series. The show tells the tale of the Gallagher family, and their alcoholic father played by William H. Macy. In the time it takes you to binge the dramedy (found on Netflix) you could fly across the country, from New York City to Los Angeles, some 18 times.
- Time it takes to binge: 2 days, 12 hours
In 2006, Slate called “The Wire” “the best show ever broadcast on American television.” The show, which was part crime drama and part police procedural, was lauded for its literary themes and the realism with which it portrayed its subject matter. While it never won any awards during its six-season run, it’s widely regarded as one of the best shows of all time. In the time it would take you to watch all episodes, you could take a commercial flight around the world (and have some hours to spare).
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Time it takes to binge: 6 days
Created by Joss Whedon, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is an ironic play on the popular “high school is hell theme.” After burning down the gym at her old high school, Buffy (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is forced to move to Sunnyside where she fights evil forces as a slayer. In the time it would take fans to binge the first seven seasons as they prepare for the recently announced reboot, one could drive 3,500 miles across the country, depending on the route.