By Jeanene Tracy

Every year more people are opting to pay for streaming services. In the USA, more than 57% of people are tapped into at least one streaming service, with the average American having access to three. 

Streaming services like Stan, Amazon, Disney, Netflix and YouTube have grown in popularity because we like to watch when we want, wherever we like.  Why is it though that our interest in true crime is also increasing with this rise of streaming services? Here are four reasons why we are magnetised to the grit of true crime.

We Get To Be The Armchair Hero Anytime, Anywhere

When we’re signed up to streaming services, we can easily flick the switch to become an armchair detective any time, day or night. It’s something we yearn for, not necessarily solving crimes, but definitely accomplishing something. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of “Flow”, says some of our best moments are when we make an effort to achieve something difficult.

These shows give us a chance to do precisely that. We get to play detective in the safety of our living room. Unlike the real world, there are no adverse consequences for us, and when we guess the outcome correctly, we feel like a winner!

We Can Indulge In Binge-Watching

Watching crime shows can be addictive. We want to keep watching, just one more episode, just one more, and one more…we want to keep watching until we see how it ends. With streaming, we can watch an entire series all at once. We don’t have to wait until Wednesday 8:30pm next week to watch the next episode.

By then you’ve most likely forgotten what happened last week anyway. Now with streaming, we can sit down for an entire block of time and watch as many episodes as we like. Is binge-watching bad for us? Well, according to Talib Babb of the New Yorker, it teaches us patience, and who doesn’t want to master that?

We Have Uninterrupted Reassurance

Us humans watch true crime to understand human behaviour and prepare ourselves to stay safe. Dr Meg Arroll says we feel more in control of our lives when we grasp the darker side of human nature and the motivation of those who commit crimes, so ultimately we can protect ourselves and our families from the madness in the world.

Jeff Pope, head of Factual Drama at ITV, says when watching these scenes, we ask ourselves questions like “what would I have done?”. Megan Boorsma says this can increase our chances of survival and prepare us for dangerous situations. Watching our favourite shows on streaming services allows us to digest and process as much or as little as we can without pesky ads interrupting our flow of thought, and have the reassurance that we are safe and sound in our own home. 

We Get A Cheap Thrill

Some of us get an adrenaline rush watching true crime, knowing people like the featured villains are living amongst us, and yet we still survive in the world. Research indicates that this genre was amongst one of the most-watched on Netflix in 2019, showing that many of us are curious to consume such truth.

Pope says people love crime because it’s unpredictable, you never know what’s going to happen, and no two stories are the same, because they are real life. It definitely helps that these streaming channels are pretty cheap to subscribe to, this way we can be easily thrilled without going to an off-the-charts-expensive theme park or haunted house.

We Engage In Chats About Social Morality 

Because we have control over when and where we view streaming, we can watch our favourite show simultaneously with groups of friends, and even strangers around the world. Reader’s Digest suggests that people feel a sense of community when they share their thoughts about TV shows.

We can also gauge what other people’s morals are by hearing their opinions on things that happen on the show. This helps us to put our own views into perspective too, establishing what is morally right and wrong. Taking it to the next level, thousands of people attend events like CrimeCon every year where they meet fellow fans, performers and experts from their favourite shows.

With streaming being low cost and at our fingertips, we’ve now got easy access to a deeper insight into the minds of the humans that live in our world. Our fascination with true crime continues to grow, giving us armour to wear in a dangerous situation.

The best part is we get to play detective and solve crimes as they play out on tv, all in the safety of our own home, whilst feeling like we achieved something today!