Binge drinking might lead some not so savvy participants directly into an ER. Binge watching might cause the viewers some trouble as well. But the real side effects are felt somewhere else.
Binge watching means the tendency of viewers, to watch whole seasons of a show in a very small window of time. Distributed via Apple’s iTunes, Netflix, or DVD, consumers pay a premium for the chance to watch a whole run of a show. And for various reasons, TV execs tend to dislike the binges.
First thing, the wording is really bad. Binge eating is a disorder, which can lead to obesity (see as well: chips munching couch potato). Binge drinking leads to a mindless stupor, which way too many people might diagnose as a side effect of watching too much TV as well. And strangely, for better or worse, binge watching is not attached to the quasi-braindead followers of complete audience flows, from the faux-happy morning television over the intricacies of late afternoon scripted reality shows straight into the teleshopping hell round midnight. Au contraire, the binge watchers are seen as actually affluent power viewers.
But, besides the negative emotive connotations: depending on your place in the TV value chain, the binge phenomenon might even look like a real threat to your business model.
The good thing for producers: with this trend, the retail market for TV programming becomes much larger.
The strange thing for TV network executives: finally, there’s a reason to embrace PVRs (besides the point that your viewers love to use them). If a shows ends up in a consumer’s household via DVD, OTT or whatever non-TV means, your business will suffer. So a PVR is definitely the lesser evil.
As Brian Stelter wrote in the NYTimes: That’s what live television is these days — just a starting point. Finally, TV is developing something like a long tail. Instead of concurrence, more and more shows are watched with more than a week’s delay. Too bad that advertisers generally only pay for views that happen within the first three days.
The good news for the TV industry is that it is starting to prepare itself for this binge-on-everything future. Companies are experimenting with dynamic ad insertions for cable VOD and TV Everywhere offerings, allowing them to monetize views days or possibly even weeks after shows originally air. But implementing these solutions on a massive scale takes time, and the rights for catch-up episodes are hotly contested as part of the ongoing retransmission spats between networks and pay TV providers.
So, don’t hold your breath. Because, as Liberty Media’s John Malone said on an investor’s conference: content owners and distributors “still have a huge monetization system to defend.”