Photo of a toilet paper dispenser in a public restroom with the Netflix play symbol on the center.

Photo via PranStockerRoom/Shutterstock (Licensed) Remix by Neta Bomani

Netflix sees you binging on the toilet

Netflix is now measuring our public joy, pain, and shame.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Nov 15, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 11:00 am CDT

Netflix knows when you’ve been sleeping, it knows when you’re awake. It knows if you’ve been crying, it knows about those public poops you take.

On Tuesday the streamer released new data about its subscribers’ public viewing habits. Between August and September, Netflix received more than 37,000 responses about where and how people view in public. It found that 67 percent of people now watch on the go, 27 percent of respondents have had whatever they’re watching interrupted by someone else, and 11 percent have had a show spoiled by a stranger, as Twitter bleeds into the real world.

Twenty-two percent favored watching over making conversation. Forty-five percent claimed to catch a “backseat binger” snooping on their screen. (Backseat Binger will probably be a Netflix series by 2018.)

It also cataloged our public emotions, such as crying, laughing out loud, or embarrassment at being caught watching. But perhaps the most interesting tidbit is that 12 percent said they’ve watched in a public restroom, which says a lot about our boundaries. If Netflix isn’t going to release viewership numbers, it could at least let us know the most popular public bathroom series. (Stranger Things hasn’t exactly made bathrooms feel safe, but I could see Mindhunter working.) 

Zoomed out, this data shows how ubiquitous Netflix’s presence is for many people, which isn’t exactly comforting. Netflix is now measuring our public joy, pain, and shame, and we have a whole new set of physical and emotional obstacles to navigate. But at least we can rest easy knowing 29 percent of people have “pretended not to see or hear someone else” while streaming, and that binge poopers are out there.

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*First Published: Nov 15, 2017, 1:54 pm CST