We’ve all done it at least once on our day off. Sat down for a moment and thought, “I will just watch one episode of this programme, and then I will get on with my day.” Several hours later, we’ve watched the whole series through and we haven’t done any of the things we planned.
In fact, according to Statista, 69% of people aged 18 -29 in America have binged in this way, while 70% of people aged 30-44 have done the same. Even 62% of people in the 45 -64 year old age bracket have admitted to indulging themselves.
As viewers and subscribers, we have become accustomed to binge-watching our favourite shows over the years. We have buried ourselves in a series that hooks us and stayed glued to it until the final credits of the final episode begin to roll. Netflix was to blame for getting us used to this habit but numerous platforms and services went down the same road once they realised how popular it was.
However, this way of releasing content seems to be being phased out. HBO Max and Disney+ have both begun releasing weekly episodes again. So have many other streaming platforms. Why would companies revert to the traditional linear model of content release when bingeing was so popular?
How did bingeing start?
Before 2003, everyone was used to having to wait a full week until their favourite show came back on. Then came Netflix.
Netflix decided to start publishing all its content in one go, meaning all episodes became available in one hit. The first programme they did this with was the extremely popular House of Cards, but they then made a habit of it. The reason was simple—customer satisfaction. The viewer could choose how much to watch and when to watch it. For a subscription service, ensuring their customers were happy made sense and was good for business, as it encouraged others to subscribe.
This model has its faults, hence why some platforms are now reverting to the traditional way of doing things. Firstly, there is a lack of audience engagement. If a viewer can watch everything they want within a week or two, what’s to keep them subscribing to the platform in question? Such a model does not encourage brand loyalty. And as streaming platforms rarely include permanency clauses in their contracts since this would limit the number of people signing up, there is nothing stopping someone from signing up to a platform for a few days to watch a series that interests them, then cancelling their subscription. The platform will get a new subscription fee, but only for a week at most.
If a subscriber cancels this quickly, you can’t hope to hook them with a new show or engage with them in any way that might help to keep them interested. They are just gone.
If a show is released in weekly episodes, the subscriber has to stay around for at least a month. They may find other content that interests them, or see adverts for new programmes that they might want to stay subscribed for. Furthermore, an advertising campaign for the programme can draw new people in over that month; they can view previous episodes and then catch the newest one as it’s released.
On top of all this, it is possible to use OTT services from Finecast to target these adverts and make it even more likely that a new subscriber will stay.