Bags of crackers, water bottles, and a few stray towels litter the floor in an otherwise dead-silent show floor in a convention center in Las Vegas. A sparse, subdued crowd of about 20 have gathered around a mock living room, speaking in whispers. They’re watching three guys watch TV. Lots of TV.
This is the scene of the TiVo booth at CES 2014, where those three gentlemen just set the Guinness World Record for binge-watching: 87 hours straight. And now Chris Laughlin, Dan Jordan, and Spencer Larson definitely look like they could use a break. Maybe even a trip outside.
The trio spent their three and a half days glued to a 60-inch screen, watching a gamut of mainstream American sitcoms, dramas and thrillers: Seinfeld, Modern Family, Diff’rent Strokes and Arrow among them. They beat out the previous record of 86 hours and 37 minutes set by two other people in Los Angeles two years ago, standing and swaying, slack-jawed as they approached the slacker-marathon milestone. They also destroyed the typical average daily TV-watching stats for most Americans, 34 hours a week.
“I enjoyed testing the body and seeing what my body can do,” Larson said when it was all over.
Even in good fun, there’s an unmistakable stench of desperation wafting from the publicity stunt, ostensibly for TiVo’s new DVR model Roamio. TiVo in many ways brought the practice of digitally recording TV shows onto hard drives into the mainstream, but much of its core task has been replaced by set-top boxes provided by cable providers. TiVo’s pushed beyond that by stacking on more storage, adding extra TV tuners, and giving viewers ways to watch recorded programs on phones and tablets.
For their efforts, the winners get a prize package that’s being split three ways. That includes $5,000 in cash, a television set, gaming chair, Sonos system, an iPad, and a year’s worth of Netflix. Jordan says he plans to pay off part of his mortgage with his chunk.
For the past hour leading up to the record the men have been swaying anxiously. Sometimes standing up, and all with a kind of nervous jitter like they’ve had 10 cups of coffee and not enough sleep.
Under the rules of Guinness, each gets five minutes per hour to go to the bathroom or simply look away from the screen. They refrain from making eye contact with any attendees, keeping their eyes glued to a giant television hooked up to two of TiVo’s latest units. All that’s added up to about an hour of sleep over the past week, Laughlin told The Verge. The contest was originally posted to Craigslist, offering a chance to set a world record. Laughlin — who does not own a TiVo — says he went through two phone interviews before being picked.
Jordan told The Verge all the time seemed to fly by. “I’ve done long work shifts, but never an 87-hour session,” he said while taking a long gulp of water. “I’m single, so that’s probably why I was so good at it. I’ve been in constant training.”