Binge-Watching Impacting Live TV Stats

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.

3 comments about "Binge-Watching Impacting Live TV Stats".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 6, 2017 at 9:52 a.m.

    The answer to your question, Wayne, is probably not much. Though some people no doubt "binge view" variousĀ  Netflix series from time to time, respondents in such surveys invariably overstate the extent of this kind of activity as it is the"in thing" to do. At present, Netflix probably accounts for 6-7% of all TV viewing and somewhat more in primetime, I would expect ( please Nielsen, what about some hard data on Netflix? ). So it is possible that there is some effect, mainly on the broadcast TV networks in primetime. But how much is the question? Maybe 5%? Perhaps 10%, Less? More? We don't really know.

  2. Mark Myslinski from OpenVideo Consulting, October 9, 2017 at 1:38 p.m.

    Although not accountable to binge-watching, you can't deny the trend that's gotta be due to alternative platforms.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 9, 2017 at 2:10 p.m.

    Mark, of course and I said as much. However to attribute all of it to alternative sources and not give credit to competition from 100+ cable channels is simply not accurate. As we will shortly point out in "TV Dimensions 2018", rating fragmentation has historically grown as more channels became available long before there was a Netflix. Netflix and other digital/streaming competitors have simply contributed to the process---and in a fairly large way. But not 100%.

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