The delicate formula for binge-watching
James R | On 20, Jul 2015
Binge-watching has become a term bandied about a lot in the video on-demand age. People binge on the latest Netflix series. They binge on Sky and NOW’s “box sets”. But what is binge-watching? And what makes people do it?
A study by Netflix last year decided that binge-viewing counts as watching more than you would traditionally be able to watch on linear TV in a single session. Two or moe episodes of a show, therefore, counts as a binge – indeed, some viewers prefer to consume their TV in chunks, rather than all in one go. When House of Cards Season 2 was released, only 1 per cent of subscribers in Europe gave up an entire weekend to watch all 13 episodes. On the other hand, 1 per cent of subscribers in Europe gave up an entire weekend to watch all 13 episodes.
Netflix and Amazon have both established a model of releasing original shows – ones that are not acquired from somewhere else, where episodes are branded as Netflix projects but released weekly after their broadcast – all at once. It’s a strategy that suggests they understand the value of having things available immediately, as soon as audiences demand them. Now, a study by Conviva reveals just how crucial availability is in the delicate formula for binge-viewing success.
The company’s survey of 750 binge-watching consumers found that unavailable episodes – defined as either impossible to find, or delivered within a sub-par playback experience – prompt nearly half of all OTT binge-watchers to give up on a series, with half of them neutral-to-unlikely to ever return.
Only 22 percent of respondents would wait for an episode to become available and continue binge-watching, found the report, while just 11 per cent will replace an old series with a new one (and only if it’s “great”).
Viewers are also more likely to use a computer or laptop to binge on a series, although one quarter to approximately a third of viewers use devices ranging from pay-TV to games consoles.
“Binge-watchers represent dedicated consumers,” comments Hui Zhang, CEO of Conviva. “As the line between OTT consumption and content creation blurs due to shifting viewing models, publishers need to ensure they’re building long-term value with viewers.”
“Once they’re gone, they’re likely gone forever,” concludes Conviva, with more than half of respondents less than fully committed to return to a series once they stop watching for any reason.