Binge Viewing: Good News For Viewers, Maybe Not So Much For Netflix

Binge TV viewing -- yesterday’s marvel giving consumers exactly what they want -- may turn out to an albatross for some.

Netflix, for one, has had success touting binge viewing.  Its customers can be found viewing all 13 episodes of its original series “House of Cards” in one weekend.

But binge viewing doesn’t help Netflix’s long-term business plan, because the same viewers will be looking for something new next weekend. Can Netflix keep up that kind of production pace? Of course not.

It’s probably better to space out the release of your original programming jewels. Then, you can tease consumers to keep them coming back. And you can promote other programming. This is how advertising-supported networks have been doing it for some time -- like forever. Even HBO – which, as a non-ad-supported service, is the closet precursor to Netflix -- has been doing this for decades.



It’s a different story for Netflix, which has big production plans.  But unlike CBS, TNT, NBC, AMC, HBO or almost any other network, it doesn’t plan to parse out its valuable commodity to sell advertising time and promote other stuff.

We understand Netflix is trying to break new ground. About a decade ago, few believed that shortened TV series – say 13 episodes -- would allow cable networks to survive, let alone keep viewers coming back.  But they’ve succeeded with that business model. And some of it has rubbed off on the broadcast networks -- though many of their shows still have 22-episode seasons.

But you can’t binge-view the new seasons of  “How I Met Your Mother,” “Scandal,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “Louie C.K.,” “True Blood” or “Homeland” until the season ends. It’s part of the current deal viewers have made with the TV industry.

So binge viewing is a good value for consumers, but maybe less so for a Netflix.

Now ask your favorite network this question: How many of your viewers are actually consistent binge viewers -- and what TV behaviors have really changed?

5 comments about "Binge Viewing: Good News For Viewers, Maybe Not So Much For Netflix".
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  1. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, August 29, 2013 at 11:35 a.m.

    I don't have to watch a show because the rest of the nation is, that is what my DVR is for, I just have to stay away from those that want to talk about the show...

  2. Alan Wolk from The Diffusion Group, August 29, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.

    Great post, fascinating topic, perfect timing - we are doing a quick (2 minute) survey on the habits of binge viewers - if MediaPost readers have two minutes to spare, you can find it here:

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 29, 2013 at 12:37 p.m.

    Without binge-viewing shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and one-shot comedies like Birbiglia's (terrrific) My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, I might lose interest in paying $8 per month. My goodwill feelings toward Netflix are so strong right this moment, I doubt I would cancel. The value of these shows is to reinforce the decision to stay a subscriber, especially in light of the ability to watch not only when I want, when I want, but how much I want.

  4. Bobby Campbell from Adkarma, August 29, 2013 at 1:03 p.m.

    Almost everyone I know binges now, its the new paradigm of content consumption and a great opportunity for companies that are using disruptive tech to meet it. The key is to get ahead of it and to see how your business model can adapt or how you can create a business to take advantage of the tech enabled shift.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 29, 2013 at 7:21 p.m.

    One day I read people scan videos and drop off rather quickly within a few minutes. On the other hand people are binging hours at a time. The disconnect ? Quality ?

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