The panel, made up of a number of research executives from several leading cable channels, was in agreement: The increasingly popular consumer habit of ‘binge-viewing’ of TV shows was not detrimental to the quality of their content or their business models. Indeed, it was, in fact, a significant positive.
Whether it be via Netflix or other streaming services, on-air marathons of previous seasons of a series, a TV Everywhere VOD offering or viewers catching up via DVR, binge-watching has only had a positive affect on cable network content, said Tom Ziangas, SVP of research for AMC Networks.
“Whachu talkin’ ’bout?”
Yes, binge-viewing has gone mainstream, with more than 80% of adults in several major media markets admitting to the practice. And contrary to initial fears that binge-viewers would be siphoned off from the linear experience, this has not proved to be the case.
This is happening just as we thought it would. We called it. In a blog post from February, we noted that binge-viewing could be causing an increase in television quality. And now we’ve got official confirmation from cable channel leadership.
“Let’s be careful out there.”
There is a downside, however. Those who admit to binge-watching also admit to skipping meals or personal hygiene in order to keep their streak going:
The study examined the effect binge-viewing has on everyday life activities, and found that frequent binge-viewers are twice as likely than infrequent binge-viewers to skip bathing because of their shows. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed said binge-viewing makes them feel sluggish or lazy and 18% of all binge-viewers said they simply pay less attention to other aspects of their lives.
Regardless of the personal costs, real or imagined, the ability of consumers to dive into content of their choosing is the real achievement here. Networks used to work on the model of artificial scarcity — “Be on your couch at 8PM CST, or you’ll miss out” was the unspoken message. Now we’re experiencing plenty, and it’s proving to be a pretty good thing for consumers and networks.
“Just one more thing…”
My household is certainly on board with the new trend. We’re just getting current with a weeks-long Good Wife marathon. This has proved to be quite satisfying, even if we’ve stayed up too late “…for just one more.”
“Who loves ya, baby?”
(A previous version of this post appeared in May, 2014)