Binging is Good?

A recent article on GIGAOM.com discusses how the success of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’s come back is being heavily watched, because this comeback story while unique could also prove the validity of a new concept that has appeared through all this on-line distribution stuff, Binge Viewers.

It is no secret that if you go to Hulu.com or Netflix, you can find a host of popular shows. These shows have entire libraries or seasons online for you to view. You watch a few episodes, you get hooked… and before you know it, you’re saying, “Hmm just one more!” even though it’s 2am. My wife and I discovered this phenomenon in 2008 and we discovered it with Arrested Development. At the time, we went on a little trip to the mountains for a week and some friend had loaned us every season of Arrested Development. I had seen some episodes as I had worked on the show, but not regularly. I knew it was good, but didn’t know it was THAT GOOD. We voraciously binged on the tale of the BLUTHS, and by the end of the trip we were bonefied fans of the show. But, we didn’t have any new seasons to look forward to. Now, that’s changing. And that’s the power of Binge Viewers.

Some shows are utilizing on-line streaming viewership to BOOST their current viewership. Shows like Breaking Bad, Archer, Mad Men, Walking Dead, all of these shows are seeing increased viewership season after season at an increase that is more rampant than the usual ‘word of mouth’. This is because viewers discover these shows off-season and BINGE on the episodes leaving them hungry for more.

Binge viewing probably first appeared via DVD’s, but the process was slower and access more difficult. A full Season of a show could run you $30.00 – $40.00 dollars. Now, you can have instant access to dozens of shows for a mere $9.99 or less. The barrier to binging has been removed. It’s as if you went to Vegas and walked up to the All you Could Eat buffet and it was only $.99. (Wait that actually was a thing once).

However, with Arrested’s BINGE viewers clamoring for more nom noms and NETFLIX partnering with IMAGINE to make it happen, the real question now is… how do you monetize this and is there money to be made? And also, how much damage are we doing to our current golden goose? Cable and Broadcast aren’t FREE. Cable is something you pay for. Networks and Free Access Cable require you to sit through advertisements. So, studios and networks see the money being made? But in the game of on-line distribution its more of a risk not to mention cost for distributing content via streaming services, its kind of cloudy and not as of yet a proven profitable enterprise comparable to the traditional distribution pipelines. It makes sense people will watch the shows on Hulu or Netflix, but eyeballs have to translate to dollars.

This is where the great experiment of the Bluth’s comes in. Right now those previous seasons are bought and paid for. Putting them out on Netflix today is just cream in the coffee. BUT to produce NEW content is costly and NETFLIX is taking a risk here. Would NEW episodes of an established property be enough to garner NEW subs to the site? Hmmm, only time will tell. BUT should this move and HOUSE OF CARDS prove to be successful, you can damn sure bet that the concept of BINGE VIEWERSHIP will be partially credited for laying the foundation for the success.

Do you BINGE at Netflix, iTunes or Hulu? If so, what are you currently binging on? I’d like to know!

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