REPORT: We Spend 115 Hours a Year Searching For Something to Watch on TV

looking for something to watch

How long do you spend browsing Netflix for something to watch? How about flipping aimlessly through channels until you just turn off the TV?

If you’re anything like us, it can seem like an eternity scrolling through all the movies and TV shows available, kind of aimlessly picking a few titles we’ve never heard of, reading the short descriptions, and then moving on to the next thing. Most of the time we end up watching reruns of some of our favorite shows or picking a random documentary and calling it a night.

So if you had to guess just how much time during the year you spend surfing for entertainment, how long do you think it would be?

We spend 4.9 days a year searching for something to watch on TV

We calculated this staggering number using survey data and discovered that, over the course of the year, we spend over 115 hours looking for something to watch. To put it another way: on average we all spend 4.9 DAYS A YEAR browsing for a movie or TV show to watch. Not actually watching TV or movies, but merely searching.

what to watch on tv stats

Comparing this amount of time against other routine activities makes it seem even more ridiculous how much time we waste just browsing (data from We are browsing aimlessly for more time per year than we are exercising, doing yard work, homework, going to church, and more. We grabbed the initial data from Rovi Corp, following their survey of the habits of 4000 television and SVOD viewers (1000 US, 500 each in U.K., Germany, France, China, Japan and India). Among other viewing habits, they found we spend over 19 minutes a day browsing through content libraries on Netflix, Hulu, cable TV guides and more hoping to find the night’s entertainment.

Recent Nielsen numbers estimate the average American watches just under four hours of television a day, meaning we’re spending about 7% of our time watching television flipping channels or scanning SVOD libraries somewhat aimlessly. You could literally watch the entire series of Friends in this amount of time with plenty of room to spare (approximately 80 hours).

There’s something to be said about our intentions when we turn on the TV. Certainly there are times where we know what we want to watch, and that’s great, but there are definitely countless times where we all turn to the TV with no clear objective only to find ourselves caught in the infinite scroll of one of our favorite streaming platforms. You could call it”The Tyranny of Choice” and it begs the question whether this many options makes us any happier than we were with that modest VHS collection we grew up with.

Now we all have seemingly endless options, and spending over four and a half days a year browsing certainly seems like a ridiculous amount of time. There’s a reason The Onion parodied Netflix with a “Browse Endlessly” plan.