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Netflix Totally Knows How and Why You Spoil Stuff, Internet

Location, location, location: did you know where lived plays a huge part in your feelings on spoilers? Well, that’s what a Netflix-funded research poll has revealed: Americans accept the inevitability of spoilers, Canadians are sorry about them (of course), and the Brits are just, well, too British to even consider spoilers an acceptable thing in any regard. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

In an attempt to understand our rapidly and continually changing viewing habits — particularly in this age of revered binge-watching — Netflix worked with author and cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken to, essentially, step into the metaphorical living rooms of Americans, Canadians, and folks all across the United Kingdom, to understand how and why we view programs (and spoilers) they way we do.

On top of the heap? That would be the good ol’ US of A, where 76 percent of the survey’s respondents agreed with the sentiment that spoilers are “just one of those things that we have to live with these days.” Comparatively speaking, 24 percent of our British brethren believe they’re a fact of life and even less — only 4 percent! — think it is OK to spoil folks on major show happenings, because, you know, decorum and consideration and all that. Tut tut!

The in-betweener of these two extremes is Canada (because of course). Surprisingly, though, 72 percent of Canadians find spoilers to just be the way of the world today. Less shocking was the fact that 69 percent of the folks McCracken spoke to apologized for accidentally spoiling someone. No doubt at-times begrudgingly so, only 37 percent of Americans felt bad about spoiling something and later apologized for doing so, because USA! USA! USA!

As far as timing goes? On the American side of things, 21 percent of folks surveyed believed the day-after an episode aired was A-OK to get into the nitty-gritty, spoilerific territory, whereas Canadians hovered around 11 percent. The British found all of this so terribly untoward and outside the acceptable behaviors of social conventions that they had to go find a chaise lounge to faint on, 58 percent of them saying they’ve felt bad for spoiling something in the past.

McCracken also deduced the many different type of spoilers out there in the world, and even created a handy-dandy chart to help you figure out what sort of spoilsport you are (clickity-click — double click!):

Those curious to know which type of spoiler they are can take a quiz because this is the Internet and who doesn’t love a typifying quiz, right?! (I’m an “Impulsive.” Is that more Carrie or Samantha?)

And going deeper, he also figured out the stages of spoiling:
Stage One: Contained & Coded — “At this stage the majority of people take care to try not to spoil.”
Stage Two: Share Aware — “Where the emphasis shifts to the ‘spoilee’ to protect themselves in order to avoid spoilers by sidestepping social media.”
Stage Three: Uncensored Spoiling — “Where spoiling becomes a way of life with social media providing the rumour mill as has been the case for shows such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, to name a couple.”

There’s also the rule-bending version of spoiling — something the Brits make great use of, those tricky treacles — Real-Time Subversive Spoiling (also known as what it’s like to sit next to me while watching TV), where someone who’s already viewed the program-at-hand intermittently offers hints that a big moment is on its way. Sort of like when someone, cough, goes “oh man this next part!” or “just WAIT until the next scene you guys JUST WAIT oh man!”

Thankfully, Netflix is willing to take the blame for this new way of watching, and spoiling, that has come upon us all. “As TV evolves, consumer behaviour is evolving right along with it,” explained Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix. “When we premiered all episodes of our shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black all at once, across the world, it created a new dynamic around spoilers.”

So — what sort of spoiler are you? Let’s share in the comments!

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  1. I would also think it depends on the type of fan you are.  Most Doctor Who fans (that I know, and we all live in America) do not spoil movies or shows ever.  If we want to talk about it and you haven’t seen it yet we warn you so you can excuse yourself.   The same is true for the Walking Dead fans that I know though.  So it really doesn’t boil down to any type of geographic location IMO as much as are these people watching true fans, and have a mutual respect for the other fans.  

  2. Jesse says:

    thought this would be a river song article… disappointed.

  3. Kevin says:

    Liking spoilers is a different thing than accepting their inevitability.  

  4. Amy says:

    Doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s plain rude to spoil a show for someone!

  5. frnk says:

    All the americans getting angry in the comments hahaha

  6. T Guff says:

    First sentence has an error.

    Should probably change to “Location, location, location: did you know where [you live] plays a huge part in your feelings on spoilers?” 

  7. Jessica says:

    I feel bad for science.  Someone takes the time and effort to research someone, and gets shot down when nobody likes the results.  The writer of this article was a little heavy handed with the cultural stereotyping, but I don’t think interesting ideas should be dismissed because of personal feelings.

  8. Melvin says:

    Erm… I’m British and should tell you, we don’t like spoilers at all. Well I’ve never come across anyone else who does at least, and yeah… Sorry just feel the need to correct that first paragraph. 

  9. Apparently just a stereotype says:

    This would have been potentially interesting research, but apparently all you could think to do with it is reinforce cultural stereotypes which are outdated and incredibly boring. Did the Netflix research also say that women be shopping?

    Next time don’t bother.

  10. vCJD says:

     Apparently Alicia Lutes you have a small minded view of the British population. Your mildly offensive, yet constant stereotyping of a very minor, and older fashioned part of our population, actually made me switch off from reading the real meat of your artical. Presumably you are American, do you know any “real” citizens of the UK?  Thankfully the Americans I know, and have meet in my lifetime, aren’t as patronising and ignorant, as your musing make you out to be. Maybe I should call you a typical Yank (whilst secretly wishing you are from the Southern States, just to be doubly offensive)
    Sorry Netflix, but money I pay you, which you used on this, probably quite useful research, appears to have been wasted.

    • Dana says:

      Quick! Someone get vCJD a chaise lounge. I think she’s (he’s?) swooning in the face of our small mindedness and ignorance.
      USA! USA! USA!