TV Binge Viewing Still a Habit7 Jan, 2013 By: Stephanie Prange
During the neighborhood New Year’s celebration, a friend said she had gotten hooked on “Pretty Little Liars” via Netflix, viewing initial episodes on its streaming service. With the new season about to start, she wanted to know how to catch up on the episodes in between. Netflix didn’t have them yet for streaming, so I suggested buying the episodes on disc or renting them piecemeal on disc.
It’s just too bad the studios can’t take advantage of this avid audience. No doubt, had my friend been able to immediately purchase the succeeding episodes on disc or via electronic sellthrough on Netflix, she would gladly have done so.
A few days later, Meredith Vieira, guesting on the “Today” show, noted she had gotten “Homeland” on disc and had become hooked. She had planned to wait for the next season to come out on disc, but decided to subscribe to Showtime instead because she just couldn’t wait.
A phenomenon that developed during the heyday of DVD — watching whole seasons of TV episodes in succession — seems now to be a habit with many viewers, whether they watch them on disc or online. And once these fans are hooked, they often crave immediate gratification with the next installment of episodes.
Studios profited handsomely from this habit when consumers could only purchase whole seasons and series on disc. Now that they can view whole seasons (albeit not the latest ones) via streaming on services such as Netflix, the marketing task is a bit harder, but no doubt could help studios squeeze more revenue from costly content.
In a fragmented content business, studios will need to cater to the consumer who discovers a series on broadcast TV, on disc or via streaming or syndication. Paying heed to this growing audience of TV junkies who are not necessarily tied to the TV schedule could pay big dividends if marketers time advertising and access to disc and digital releases wisely.
It will require more communication between studio divisions — syndication, home entertainment, etc. — and an eye to that consumer when content owners make deals with the likes of Netflix and other distributors.