We used to have to wait for days to watch the next episode of our favorite shows and then sit through ads when it finally came on.
But how we watch television has changed in the last ten years.
A larger number of us are opting to watch multi-episodic shows in a single sitting without any ads.
This phenomenon is called, you guessed it, binge-watching.
Thanks to cable TV, DVDs and online downloads, binge-watching has existed in some form for a number of years.
But now the pervasiveness of streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and Hulu have made it into a cultural phenomenon.
A survey in 2015 found that upwards of 75% of American television viewers and 85% of Chinese viewers binge-watch television shows.
And in the United States, those 24 years old and younger, often called Generation Z, are binge-watching more than any other generation.
Ninety-one percent of Gen Z say they binge-watch shows, compared to 86% of millennials and 80% of Gen X.
Here at the Cannes Lions festival, marketers are carefully watching these trends in order to figure out how to best reach you, the consumer.
At this marketing festival, I met up with Pranav Yadav, a neuro-marketer who studies consumer behavior, to learn about the culture shift.
This culture of binge-watching is actually a culmination of a lot of things.
The fact that we are busier.
The fact that streaming is actually available.
I remember the time when opening a website in India meant you know you'd actually have to wait for the head to load first, and then the forehead, and then the eyes and if you were lucky, and the connection didn't break, you'll get to see the face.
From that time, we finally moved to a point where even in countries like India, there's 4G access.
While faster connection speeds make streaming possible, Pranav says it's the new streaming ecosystem that has us hooked.
Here's how it works.
First: Produce good content that not only captures people's attention, but also builds loyalty.
Loyalty brings in revenue for the company, which allows it to invest in more compelling and higher-quality content to keep us glued to our screens.
Take Netflix for example, the biggest streaming platform on the planet boasts about 140 million subscribers.
It premiered 139 original shows in 2018 and accounted for over half of the estimated $19.5 billion spent on programming by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu combined.
Besides owning popular titles such as Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, Netflix also carries fan-favorites such as The Office and Friends.
Ad breaks are typically a major revenue stream for traditional broadcast companies.
But if our shows are uninterrupted, then how are companies like Netflix and Hulu making money?
Netflix and Amazon Prime are doing a pretty good job at product placement and brand placement within their content.
If you look at the show called the Stranger Things, there's a character who ends up falling in love with Eggo.
Now what better way in the world to find an engaging story and to be able to reinforce your brand attributes through a long-form content?
And it's not stopping there.
Netflix says it inked deals with around 75 brands for the upcoming series of Stranger Things, including Coca-Cola, H&M and Baskin-Robbins.
Netflix's biggest rivals are also working on innovative ways advertise to us without interrupting our marathon-viewing sessions.
To learn more, I met up with the Head of Research at Hulu, to find out how the company has adapted its marketing strategies to ride the binge-watching wave.
We're able to recognize when a person is beginning a binge-viewing session.
So maybe you offer an ad unit in the first episode and you say look we know you're settling in to watch a few episodes, maybe now is the time you order your pizza, or to get your taxes done, or whatever it is you might need to do.
And then maybe you offer the rest of the experience commercial free or with limited interruptions.
These strategic partnerships are paying off.
Standalone streaming services hit $38.2 billion in revenue last year.
That number is expected to almost double by 2023.
And there's still room for growth.
Only 5% of ad dollars go to streaming platforms, even though 50% of the audience is there.
YouTube has also become a major player in the streaming service industry.
It announced last year that its rebranded subscription service, YouTube Premium, will offer viewers access to original content as well as ad-free music and video streaming.
Traditional broadcasters are getting into the streaming game too, but they'll need to act fast.
For the first time this year, adults in the United States will spend more time on their mobile phones than on their televisions.
American adults are projected to spend 3 hours and 43 minutes on their phones each day, compared to an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes watching TV.
Media companies like Disney and British broadcasters BBC and ITV have already announced plans for new streaming platforms.
Most recently, NBC stated it will be pulling what's widely considered Netflix's most popular title The Office, and putting it on its own streaming platform in 2021.
Traditional broadcast is in huge danger and if they actually do not get their act together, they'll be eaten alive.
As more and more streaming players get into the game, the question becomes, how much we're willing to stretch our wallets and attention spans to include new services.
And advertisers will have to work even harder to get between us and that next episode.