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Guess how many Malaysians watch TV series in the toilet? 9 surprising facts from our TV survey!

What a time to be alive! Gone were the days where we were limited to movies and series on our free TV channels… today, there are SO many series and movies for us to choose from.

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Speaking of TV, by now you should know that our friends at Astro have provided Malaysians with a wide variety of movies and shows to choose from. You can check them out on demand, exclusively on Astro. In fact, now, you can even watch back-to-back movies and an entire season of TV shows! Just use your PVR and download series and movies that have been released. Instead of watching them week-by-week, you can even download them all at once and watch each episode and it won’t be “potong stim”.

There’s a variety of channels and shows for your binge-watching fix: HBO’s Game of Thrones (up to Season 7!), British shows like Victoria and Sherlock Holmes, Fox Movies, and even Korean dramas like My Secret Romance, My Sassy Girl and Suspicious Partner all completely on demand.

So with that in mind, we wanted to ask Malaysian couch potatoes with a knack for binge-watching… What kinda series do ugaiz like watching? What’s your biggest annoyance? Do yall even get enough sleep??

Before we get to the data, here’s what you need to know about the survey and respondents –

  • Top 5 locations: 40% Selangor, 20% KL, 7% Johor, 6% Penang, 5% Sarawak. Each state had respondents, but Terengganu and Perlis had the least with less than 1%.
  • Gender: 57% women, 42% men, 1% did not identify
  • Primary language: 56% BM-speakers, 33% English-speakers, 7% Chinese-dialect speakers, 2% Indian-dialect speakers, and 2% others
  • Survey duration: 8th – 27th June 2017

Ok comprende? Time for the data!


1. People really, really, REALLY hate bad acting. (Especially Kedah folks.)

Original photo from

Original photo from

There are a lot of things that can annoy us when we watch a show. Cliffhanger endings, overuse of laughing track (we’re looking at you, The Big Bang Theory)… argh! Geram wei!

So when we asked our readers about what annoys them the most, they rated these as their top 3:

  1. Bad acting (59%)
  2. Cliched plots and storyline (56%)
  3. Bad scriptwriting (42%)

And you know who especially hates bad acting? People from Kedah and Penang!

In a separate question, we asked if our readers would watch a show with bad acting, even if it had a good storyline. Most Kedahans (55%) and Penangites (53%) said ‘no’, and every other state said ‘yes’.

Anyway, 4th on the list is ‘Waiting for a week for the next episode to air‘ (31%). Although some people actually enjoy episodes airing week by week (it gives the audience time to mull over the episode, creates social discussions etc.), there are others who enjoy binging through the entire season because it lets them immerse themselves in the series. So perhaps it’snot a bad idea that Astro lets you watch all your favourite series on demand 🙂


2. Malaysians. Don’t. Care. About. Awards! (Or critics!)

Ok fine, not nobody… but 98% of respondents actually don’t care if the series they’re watching is award-winning or not.

Unedited photo from Getty Images

Yes, SAG Awards is a real thing. Unedited photo from Getty Images

And in a separate question, we asked our readers if they’d start/stop watching a show based on critics’ reviews. Guess what? 84% of our respondents said NO – they’ll watch what they want to watch.

So… if they don’t care about awards or critics, what DO they care about? Here are the top 5:

  1. A good plot/storyline (90%)
  2. Good acting (57%)
  3. Ability to connect to them emotionally (37%)
  4. Great overall message (33%)
  5. Characters they feel connected to (29%)

A nice surprise was the 6th entry on the list – ‘Pushing boundaries of societal norms’ (27%). Take for example a show like “Supergirl”, “DC’s Legend of Tomorrow” and “Gotham” all with LGBT supporting characters.

Another surprise was that ‘Adult content’ scored second last on the list (6%). Guess Malaysians aren’t so naughty after all? Hehe.


3. Malaysians MUST makan when they watch TV

You can never separate Malaysians from their food. If their mouths aren’t gasping at a plot twist, it’s busy eating something.

Image from

Familiar? Image from

When we asked our readers about their eating habits, a whopping 69% said that they usually eat while they watch their shows. (The remaining 12% only drink, and 19% don’t eat or drink anything.)

So what are these people eating anyway? Most (33%) said that they eat real meals like their lunch or dinner, which totally makes sense since many of us grew up eating in front of the TV even though our mothers scolded us for it. But as for snacks, what are Malaysians’ preference?

Us. Photo from

Not a relatable photo but WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT CAT?! Photo from

International snacks like popcorn, fries, chips and chocolates (23%) whooped local snacks like lekor and keropok (13%)! Well considering most time our fresh bags of lekor don’t even reach our destination (we finish them on the way), this isn’t that surprising la.


3. What’s the main difference between high- and low-income earners? How they prioritise time.

We compared respondents with low household income (less than RM3,000) and high household income (more than RM15,000), and the high-income group just seem a lot more efficient with their time.

But you can use money and buy thyme.

But you can use money and buy thyme. Ha! (Sorry, tak lawak.)

When are they watching their shows? While both groups mainly watched their shows after hours, on the weekends or during a long holiday, we found that the low-income earners also watched their shows during class/work (2%) and during lunch breaks (7%). (Woi, you should be studying/working and eating la!)

In fact, we also found that high-income group liked… err… multitasking. 19% of the high-income group watch their shows while pooping, as compared to only 9% from the low-income group.

Apart from how they spend time, we also found that they both enjoyed comedy and action series the most! Some notable differences on show preferences were:

  • the high-income group (21%) preferred to watch documentary as compared to the low-income group (9%)
  • the low-income group (19%) preferred to watch romance as compared to the high-income group (7%).

On a side note, we found that high-income earners also had way more sleep. 88% of them sleep more than 6 hours a day, as compared to only 51% from low-income earners.


4. More women preferred crime shows, more men preferred animation

When children cried and grown adults cried harder.

When children cried and grown adults cried harder.

Okay, before we get to that, let’s explain the context. We asked our readers their top 3 favourite genres of shows to watch, and the general results were:

  1. Comedy (48%)
  2. Action (45%)
  3. Drama (29%)
Bung Mokthar is apparently part of a Sabahan tribe that allegedly drinks... BLOOD!?

Then we narrowed down by gender. Some of our results pretty much confirmed our assumptions: men preferred action, documentary, fantasy, science fiction, war and sports… meanwhile, women preferred comedy, drama, romance, family and reality TV… but what surprised us was that women preferred crime shows (27%) than men (21%), and more men preferred animation (26%) than women (20%)!

In other gender-based news, here’s what we found:

  • Not everyone would openly admit, but equal counts of men (14%) and women (14%) have watched their shows while pooping
  • More women (17%) than men (12%) watch their shows on their smartphones
  • More women (20%) than men (12%) look for hot actors/actresses
  • More women (>63%) than men (36%) feel awkward when watching an intense romance scene with their parents
  • More men (10%) than women (7%) would sacrifice time with their friends to watch their shows… but more women (20%) than men (14%) would sacrifice exercising to watch their shows  🙂 


5. Most Korean drama audience are, in fact, BM-speakers!

Malaysian fans with Lee Kwang Soo of Running Man fame. Photo from The Star

Malaysian fans with Lee Kwang Soo of Running Man fame. Photo from The Star

Now the entire CILISOS team didn’t get why Korean dramas are so great, so we went to interview some of themThey’ve actually got some pretty sensible reasons… Unlike Hollywood, the values portrayed in K-drama are a lot more relatable to us as Asians. Mat Sallehs get to the kiss really fast… but in K-town, the kiss is HUGE. It’s so huge it’s even shot in 4 different angles. Serious! It’s like if you had Jerry Bruckheimer direct a scene with no robots, no CGI and no explosions, and just a cute Korean couple. (More insights here!)

So among Malaysians, who ARE the K-drama fans? When we asked our readers if they watch K-drama, 55% said yes while the remaining 45% said no. To be honest, literally NONE of us in CILISOS watch K-drama… so we were really surprised to see these numbers cos we assumed that it would be a very niche audience.

While it spans across all languages, the biggest group of Malaysia’s K-drama audience were BM speakers (64%), followed by English speakers (25%), Chinese-dialect speakers (7%), other languages (3%), and Indian dialects (1%). Shockerama! But our friends at SOSCILI (our BM site) told us that before K-drama, the BM crowd have always been fans of languages that aren’t native to Malaysia, like Hindustan films and Spanish telenovelas that constantly zoom into peoples’ faces.

(Ed’s note: Do take these numbers with a pinch of salt, since 56% of our respondents are BM-speakers and only 33% are English-speakers)


6. Malaysians are a bit kampung… They prefer sitting on the floor than on expensive chairs

Fun fact: CILISOS team also likes to sit on the floor

Fun fact: CILISOS team also likes to sit on the floor

Apart from the sofa/couch (41%) and bed (33%), Malaysians seem to really, really like sitting on the floor (18%). In fact, Malaysians love the floor so much that they’d forgo single reclining chairs (4%) and rocking chairs (3%)!

Oh btw… reclining chairs not cheap yea, we found a decent one for RM600 and that itself is on about 50% sale! Unless you like the old school type with the plastic strings that can kepit your hair la. Rocking chair also not cheap wei!

Clever bebe! Help mommy daddy save money!

Clever bebe! Help mommy daddy save money!

So… who are these people anyway?

  • 80% are BM-speaking crowd
  • Almost equal number of men (45%) and women (55%)
  • Most of them (58%) stay with their parents/grandparents
  • Most of them (68%) actually watch their shows alone instead of with family/spouse etc.

Hmm. If they stay with their parents/grandparents, and watch their shows alone, and STILL prefer to sit on the floor, that has to mean that they’re… down to earth?

8. To torture Malaysians, just make them watch a romance scene with their parents

We watch all sorts of shows, and that comes with all sorts of scenes… including lovey dovey ones. So imagine how Malaysians would react if they’re faced with a ‘5-minute, ‘intense’ love scene’. If they’re watching it alone, then it’s up to them la… but what if they’re watching it with… THEIR PARENTS??

Awkward from every angle!

Something similar happened 9 months before your birthday. Awkward from every angle!

Most (71%) of our respondents indicated that they’d feel a level of awkwardness, with the remaining 29% saying that they’ll just ‘carry on as it’s not a big deal’. Let’s take a closer look at the geli-fied 71%:

  • 25% will ‘PRETEND like nothing’s happening‘ (CiliTip: Just DON’T move a muscle.)
  • 19% will ‘start playing with their phones’ (CiliTip: Make sure your phone’s right beside you.)
  • 18% will ‘change the channel‘ (CiliTip: Find the remote early cos it always goes missing.)
  • 4% will ‘go to the toilet‘ (CiliTip: Just say your tangki small la.)

We also found that most of these flers who feel awkward are from the BM-speaking crowd. Only the English-speaking crowd felt the most at ease when faced with romance scenes with their family sitting beside them.

Anyway, if you’re part of the geli crowd, just check sites like IMDB which lists down 18SX scenes so you can totally avoid these moments. And if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, on demand lets you watch all uncut episodes, exclusively on Astro… But don’t worry, we came up with a list of scenes to avoid if you’re watching with the fam-bam.

Err can change channel ar?

Err can change channel ar?


9. Most Malaysians can’t stop watching after 1 episode

So… are you watching more TV than the next Malaysian? How many episodes do Malaysians typically watch in one sitting anyway? Turns out, most of them (36%) watch 3-4 episodes per session!

Hey look ma, a mirror! Photo from

Hey look ma, a mirror! Photo from

Here’s the full breakdown, from most to least:

  • 36%: 3-4 episodes per session
  • 34%: 1-2- episodes per session
  • 18%: more than 7 episodes per session (???!!!!!)
  • 11%: 5-6 episodes per session

Woah! Let’s say one episode is 60 minutes… that would mean most of us are spending about 3-4 hours a session watching our shows. Malaysians, certified binge-watchers! In fact, in 2014, a survey on binge-watching found that the global average is 48% but among Malaysian respondents, 51% said they’d be willing to BUY an entire season at one go!

Now let’s just hope they get sufficient sleep too. 🙂


Woah… Malaysians sure take their TV-time seriously

Yup. We’re one heckuva binge-watching, food-eating, sofa-reclining, awkward-feeling bunch. So thankfully on demand has an abundance of shows (plus movies!) in all sorts of languages and in complete seasons, exclusively on Astro, ready for Malaysians to watch all night long till the cows come home.

But… err… just don’t go overboard la ok? Still need to be able to function for work/school alright? 😀

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