Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why Netflix encourages binge watching

Netflix released it's recent exclusive shows, Arrested Development and House of Cards, as one big block instead of dripping them out over time the way they would be run on regular TV. Daily Beast wonders why they do this:
While it's fun in a way to fry your brain watching episode after episode in a gluttonous feast, I'm still not quite sure why Netflix is releasing all the episodes of these shows at once. I know they want to recreate the experience of watching an entire season of a television show on DVD... but this is first-run programming we're talking about. TV on DVD means the show has already aired, it's had its incremental first release and now those who missed it can consume it at their own pace. But presumably they want to do that because they've heard things about it, people they know watched the show in real time, other people reviewed or recapped it or whatever else we do with television shows these days.
But in the case of an all-new series that comes tumbling out all at once, where's the opportunity for momentum, build-up, even word of mouth?
Seth Godin made a similar points a while ago:
In launching an entire seasion of House of Cards at once, Netflix made a mistake (fwiw, I haven't seen it):
Buzz is a function of both interest and timing. If 100 people talk about something over the course of a week, it pales in comparison to 100 people talking about something right now. Conversations beget conversations. The next big thing, the it girl, the one of the moment--most buzz is meta-buzz, talk about the talk. Think about it... Superbowl buzz is almost entirely about the buzz, not about the game. It's the sync that matters.
I think Netflix released their programming this way because, when they look at user logs, it's how they observe their actual customers actually watching actual shows. From this perspective, buzz marketers are objecting because facts are getting in the way of their theory.

Alternatively, watching a season quickly may be like a child eating all of his Halloween candy as soon as he gets back from trick-or-treating. The child does not know what is best for him, and therefore binges when he should be stretching the treats out over a few days.

Entertainment industries are the trickiest areas to apply data, because customers are not interested in speedy transactions, they way they are when they are searching for information on Google or buying something on Amazon. The viewing patterns Netflix sees are real. The question is, how to interpret them and make the best decision for their business.


Blogger JD said...

I think it comes down to a psychological bias that I see in fellow traders *all* the time: pursuit of short term pleasure over longer term gain!

9:41 AM  

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