Behold the versatile public restroom: It’s a refuge, a place to steel one’s nerves and, for some, a personal theater.
According to new data from the video giant Netflix, about 12 percent of Americans who watch television shows or movies outside of the home admit to having done so in a public restroom. And 37 percent say they’ve watched at work.
That’s according to the results of a survey conducted in late summer commissioned by Netflix and conducted by SurveyMonkey. The poll was based on responses from more than 37,000 people around the world, including 1,600 Americans, balanced by age and gender. It found that 67 percent of people stream movies and TV shows while on the go.
The data provides insight into a growing phenomenon: As Americans spend more time watching video on computers, smartphones and tablets, media consumption patterns and social customs are shifting.
“Disruption is occurring across the board,” said Lee Rainie, the director of internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center. “It’s in businesses, it’s in social norms, it’s in the boundaries or lack of boundaries between public and private spaces.”
The use of smartphones and streaming services is on the rise, according to Pew. But details about how those trends are changing habits are hard to come by. Streaming companies have been reluctant to publicly share data on what their users watch and where, and third-party trackers have been slow to catch up. Still, the Netflix survey, released on Tuesday, sheds some light on public viewing habits.
While some Americans who stream on the go admitted to watching shows and movies in restrooms, the place where streaming was most popular was in the air: 44 percent said they watch on airplanes.
The next most common viewing location was the bus, where 40 percent said they had streamed content. About 34 percent said they had watched in a car and 31 percent said they had watched on a train.
About 12 percent of Americans who viewed TV shows or movies in public were so distracted by what they were watching that they missed their stop on a bus or train.
Almost half, 44 percent, say they’ve caught others watching them stream shows or movies. About 1 in 5 said they’ve cried or felt embarrassed while watching in public. And 11 percent said they’ve had a show or movie spoiled by sneaking a peek of someone else’s screen.
Mexicans, Colombians and Chileans are the most emotional public binge-watchers. Germans, on the other hand, are least likely to say they’ve cried in public while watching a show.