This is great news for producers of serial dramas and the viewers that love them. According to the TiVo survey, that's the preferred genre for us bingers. Can you say “House of Cards”? We bingers like comedies, too -- just not quite as much. The “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which debuted shortly before the TiVo survey was taken, proved to be a favorite among bingers, who do the majority of their marathon viewing via Netflix and Amazon Prime -- as opposed to video-on-demand from cable, satellite and telco providers, downloads from the iTunes store, or DVD box sets bought at big-box stores. Moreover, bingers want the instant gratification Netflix is offering by releasing a series all at once -- a tactic slowly being adopted by the competition.
For some bingers, delayed gratification is the only satisfying choice when a series is dealt one episode at a time. The TiVo research suggests a growing number of us -- nearly a third of those surveyed -- will wait for a series to complete its run so we can have the novel reader's satisfaction of digesting multiple chapters in a sitting. Showtime may dribble out weekly doses of “Ray Donovan” or CBS “The Good Wife,” but a significant number of us prefer to wait till season end to dive in, via our TiVo or other DVR.
Generation Binge may be a boon for quality drama, but it's a serious concern for traditional networks. The TiVo study defines a binge as watching at least three episodes of a series in a single day. Once we are in the Netflix or Amazon wheelhouse, that's the TV ecosystem we're living in, increasingly less likely to dive back into Networkland. Keeping us there are those algorithms harnessed to promoting similar fare we might want to devour after finishing season 3 of “Orange is the New Black.”
Still, traditional networks can successfully lure the binge generation. The TiVo survey shows binge-ing spikes when a USA Network runs a “Modern Family” marathon -- or when BBC America does the same with a cult hit like “Dr. Who.” Binge-ing spikes on holiday weekends, too, akin to what happens when Netflix releases a full season of one of its hits.
Binge Nation does not bode well for reality TV. We rarely watch multiple episodes of competition shows like “The Voice” or “The Bachelor.” Reality series, whether it's “Pawn Stars” or “Real Housewives,” may do well in the Nielsens and draw significant advertising revenue, but they don't make it the same way with bingers. When it comes to generation binge, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is passé. If it rains this weekend, I think I'll get caught up with a half a dozen episodes of “Transparent” instead.