Autoplay is a software enhancement for video-based services that allows hands-free play of the next episode of a TV show, list of videos, or related videos on a website such as YouTube. The option (that can usually be turned off in your account settings) is aligned with this generation’s obsession with binge-watching (similar to marathon watching in traditional television, but without the commercials), in which viewers may watch episode after episode of a particular series or season.
But while autoplay may seem like a great feature for Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and other video services, here are five reasons why you should turn it off.
No Stretch Breaks
Those of us who still watch traditional ad-supported television may dread the multiple commercial breaks, but those are times when you can use the bathroom, get a snack, or just stand up and move around. Staying active is good for your body, but if the next video plays in 5 seconds you’re not likely to take a break. Of course there’s always the Pause button, but you have to be disciplined enough to take those breaks.
Have you ever fallen asleep while streaming a series on Netflix, only to find the next time logging in you missed two or three episodes? It’s what we like to refer to as zombie watching, or, leaving a streaming service running while no one watches. It’s a waste of bandwidth, and, you’ll find yourself wasting time scanning through episodes to see where you fell asleep.
Waste of Bandwidth
In case you didn’t know the internet is not free. Somewhere, somehow, a server and processor is running to deliver you streaming video, and that server costs money to run and has an impact on the environment. The ethical thing to do is not use internet when it’s not needed.
Cost of Bandwidth
Cox just sent out an email to Internet subscribers saying they will soon charge an additional $10 per month per 50GBs used over a specific plan. If you’re streaming two or three more episodes than you would if you were awake, or walked away leaving the video auto-play on, you’re using up your internet usage quicker than you should.
Video services like YouTube can automatically play related videos (usually shown in the right column) immediately following a watched video. But if you’re asleep, or not at your screen while the YouTube videos play, you might end up with recommendations of videos that you never intended to watch.
Autoplay is a great feature, but perhaps one best used in certain situations when clicking Play isn’t easy, like while working out, cooking, or perhaps recovering from illness or injury. But there are times when auto-play is best turned off, and many users find no reason to ever to turn it on.