MediaWave Actionable Insights and Industry News for Media Professionals

Breaking Up With Binge Watching: What It Means for TV

May 2nd, 2017   ||    by Callie Wheeler

Chances are you know one yourself—that person binge watching every season of a show like Law & Order: SVU. Do them a favor and tell them to put down the popcorn and listen up: It may be time to take a break. Need for vitamin D aside, critics are beginning to suspect that bingeing isn’t always the best way to consume television. And that’s good news for advertisers and lovers of quality TV.

Busting the Binge

Binge watching a television show used to take some serious commitment: recording seasons on your DVR, ordering one DVD after another from Netflix, or sitting down for a weekend marathon of reruns. But streaming services from Netflix and other OTT providers have made back-to-back episode consumption part of our culture, and it’s not just because all seven seasons of The West Wing are now available at once.

The biggest disruption these content providers have created? Original series made with bingeing in mind. Original content is released all at once, with the expectation that viewers will commit a serious chunk of time to watching all the episodes over a short period. This shift in behavior and consumption may look like trouble at face value: What will happen to television as we’ve always known it?

Don’t panic! The slow burn is still worth it, according to critics. One such argument recently appeared in Den of Geek, where a television critic argued there are shows that specifically should not be watched all at once. In fact, watching them all at once actually takes away from the quality and changes the viewer’s understanding of the story. Pointing to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the article makes the case for weekly episodes that allow the viewer time to ruminate on events, themes, and cliffhangers.

Advertisers Can Wait, Too

While no one can argue streaming services don’t account for a substantial amount of television consumed, linear TV is still gaining plenty of viewers’ time. With 19-to-25 year olds watching streamable content 39 percent of the time, and live TV 29 percent, according to a Deloitte Study cited in Marketing Charts, streaming is winning out but not taking over entirely.

Advertisers can reach viewers who are tuning in every week to watch engaging content that’s still delivered in episodes. As more viewers come to realize that not everything is best served all at once, shows like This Is Us and The Walking Dead are drawing audiences on a weekly basis. According to TV By the Numbers, The Walking Dead had over 11 million viewers in the coveted 18-49 age group last year.

The binge may be popular, but don’t count on it replacing traditional linear TV just yet.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,