NBC Tries Binge-Viewing -- And That Ain't All Bad

Like any good TV network, NBC, in closely reading the tea-leaves about binge-TV watching, has decided to feed TV viewers’ big hunger.

NBC is giving viewers presumably, what they want: the entire first season -- 13-episodes -- of an new series, “Aquarius,” a story set in the 1960s about the Charles Manson killings. It will be available May 28 on, the NBC app, and video-on-demand.

As we know Netflix first popularized the full-season availability of a TV series with “House of Cards.”

Is this bad for the business? No, it’s just an option -- not a sign of altering business economics. Not all consumers want to binge. Some have other things to do -- like text, email, eat, and drink. But there are significant number who do it. So why not?

Detractors will say increased binging could disrupt the business system that has existed for decades, where networks/content creators offer one-at-a-time weekly episodes of series --- most recently around 22 weeks worth in a typical season.



TV stations affiliates might be worried again,  just as they were with digitally delivered TV shows. But business adjustments get made -- such as revenue sharing-arrangements with their networks -- and they feel happier. Somewhat.

When it comes to advertising-supported TV binge-ing, marketers will continue to focus more on audience TV buying, not program TV buying.  If people are watching, that’s all that matters.

That said, for the likes of Netflix, business economics will change. Netflix would seemingly be cycling through ever-higher production costs more quickly. Even then, Netflix doesn’t produce and air as much original TV programming as any of the big broadcast networks. Not yet, anyway.

Is there a worry NBC wants to become more like Netflix, setting up a full-time, stand-alone advertising-supported video-on-demand service with full season’s worth of TV series?

Modern media companies are all about hedging their bets, not putting all their business eggs in one basket. So no, I don’t think so.

Maybe NBC will find out just a modest portion of viewers will want to binge-watch, and that will be enough -- binging perhaps leading to overweight entertainment brains for viewers.

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