A study from TiVo showed that 92% of consumers have binge viewed TV programs. However, the study, conducted by TiVo, consisted solely of current TiVo users spending hundreds of dollars a year on a high-end DVR system, and who are more prone to binge view than the average user. Thus they may not be the segment representative of all TV viewers, says the author, Alan Wolk.
While in-and-of-itself not representative of general US binge viewing (though a sizable majority have indulged and will continue to do so) says the report, the TiVo study is directionally correct, indicative of where things are heading.
A new study by TDG that asked adult broadband users (people that use broadband at home, not just those that watch broadband TV) if they had binge viewed different types of programming over the past year.
Binge Viewing Among Adult Broadband Users (% of Respondents Who Watch Two or More of The Same Series in One Sitting)
Source of Binge
% of Respondents
Online F/A VOD
Online S VOD/TVOD
Shows recorded on DVR
Regularly scheduled broadcast/cable TV shows
Source: TDG, July 2015
The TDG definition of television binge viewing (watching two or more episodes of the same series in one sitting) was less demanding than TiVo’s (which required viewing three back-to-back episodes of a series).
However, the TDG research found that binging on TV programs is indeed a widespread behavior. For example, 65% of ABUs (adult broadband users) binge on regularly scheduled shows at least once a year (e.g., multiple episodes of The Simpsons), with 26% doing so weekly. 50% binge view DVR-recorded shows at least once a year, 17% weekly.
Transactional and subscription VOD services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu) encourage similar behavior, with 51% of ABUs binge viewing on shows from these services, 21% weekly.
Though TDG’s binge viewing numbers are significantly less than TiVo’s, these counts are quite impressive and illustrate just how mainstream binge viewing has become. The behavior is an important part of the TV viewing experience and will remain so. This is further fueled by the fact that on-demand services like Netflix actively encourage binge viewing by releasing an entire season’s worth of episodes of new original series at once.
TDG believes binge viewing will become increasingly commonplace. First, because of the coming of age of Generation Z, a segment raised on binge viewing, who barely recognize the existence of linear TV and will continue to watch shows in a non-linear fashion.
And, secondly, the growing library of quality television shows. Viewers can’t keep up with all of them and turn to bingeing to catch up on shows they’ve missed (sometimes a season at a time). Teens and twenty-somethings will look to explore catalogues of shows that aired before they were old enough to appreciate them, says the report. (e.g., The Sopranos or Lost); all of which leads to binge viewing becoming the rule rather than the exception for a large part of the viewing audience.
The report makes several recommendations based on the conclusion of the future increase and behavior of binge viewers that represent a useful framework for content providers. Here are three best practices that can make binge-viewing work for everyone, says the report:
1. Constant commercial interruptions do not make a pleasant binge-viewing experience, so infrequent commercial breaks, with countdowns to let the viewer know how much time is left until the show comes back on, are ideal.
2. Viewers engaged in the world of the show are likely to want to learn more about it. Providing behind-the-scenes commentary, video, actor bios, and the like can help create a more engaged fan, one more likely to recommend the series to a family member or friend.
3. Nothing is more frustrating, says the report, than not being able to find the show you’re looking for. Make it easy for viewers to find all the episodes they want. Make sure that services are updated with the latest venues for your shows. Update your metatags so discovery engines have an easy way to find different episodes.
Concluding, the report notes that Binge viewing is changing the television viewing experience, making watching a series akin to reading a novel. This change is here to stay and content creators need to adapt to it.
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