TV viewers seem to be going in many directions. Many are still watching one TV episode live. Some are also watching that one TV episode later on a time-shifted basis. Still others are watching multiple episodes of TV series in one later sitting -- binging.
For many, binging probably wasn't top of mind this past week — the season’s prime-time broadcast premiere week.
That said, far less people watched live TV than ever before. Viewers 18 to 49 who watched prime-time television during premiere week fell to 25.5% -- down 8% from a year ago, according to Nielsen, via a Los Angeles Times report.
But overall, live TV results are still high: an average of 4 hours/21 minutes of live TV programming per day for all TV viewers versus 34 minutes from DVR time-shifted viewing, according to first-quarter Nielsen results.
At the same time, we hear about rising binge viewing on digital TV platforms — like Netflix — immediately after a TV series season is available. For instance, viewers can watch all 13 episodes of “House of Cards” immediately after a new TV season starts.
Nearly three-quarters — 73% — of Americans said they binge-watched, according to a survey by Deloitte, including 90% of U.S millennials. Some 38% of those millennials also said they binge-watched every week.
A couple of years ago, a survey from Netflix said 73% of people define binge-watching as watching between two and six episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.
Not all SVOD platforms work this way. Hulu can still regularly release TV episodes one at a time — in keeping with more traditional TV means of distribution.
The effort — as it has been for decades — is to keep those TV viewers coming back on a regular basis. No surprise here. Four major TV companies are partners in Hulu: Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner.
Netflix goes in the other direction — and that takes money. It has a $7 billion budget for TV programming, rivaling that of older traditional TV-media companies.
To be fair, you can binge TV shows via traditional TV networks — from time-shifted libraries or advertising-supported VOD. But the popularity of binge activity is growing with new SVOD platforms.
Does TV binging have any relationship with traditional TV network-delayed viewing? Or with live TV viewing? Does delayed viewing of linear TV viewing encourage binging?
Perhaps the answer is to keep viewers guessing and off balance. They’ll always watch a new hot show somewhere — and at some time.