What a week for OTT! Virgin appointed a Chief Digital Entertainment Officer, Vivendi bought Daily Motion and Showtime launched their cable-free subscription. TV is an industry in full-scale transition to a new model, and the winners are the consumers who get to see more of what they want, where they want it, and when they want it.
This has brought on a rash of interest in binge-watching: if viewers are shifting to an all-new consumption model, what does that mean for the industry as a whole? Tivo released an immediately-popular review of binge watching, which revealed some fascinating tidbits: for instance, consumers prefer original content when binging; Variety assured us that binge-watching is no longer shameful; and we found that fully 9 out of 10 of us do it. If today is the Golden Age of TV, then that age is defined by our willingness and ability to watch great tranches of content at one go.
Never one to be left behind in understanding the needs of the consumer, Conviva released its own paper: Binge Watching, the New Currency of Video Economics. It seemed to take on a life of itself immediately, making its debut in TechCrunch, FierceOnlineVideo, Home Media Magazine, and many more.
Our observation can be summarized as follows: as the way we consume video changes, so too must the measures by which we evaluate success. Consumers overwhelmingly tell us that they watch only a few shows at a time—indeed, on the average, people watch just one or two simultaneously—and that they are as likely as not to move on if they can’t get the experience they were hoping for.
The implications for the industry could not be more impactful, because it is binge watchers who are tomorrow’s trend-setters. Their commitment to a video property not only brings them back again and again, it causes them to bring their friends to the party. Call it the “multiplier effect”. As a result, losing a single view is no longer just about the impact when experiences dip below expectations, it’s about losing a whole season—dare we say, a whole series—of views, not to mention those of affected friends and family.
As we move inexorably toward a situation in which the growth of online viewing is matched only by the decline in traditional TV viewing, a new equation has emerged to define the robustness of the business model. Where once monetization was defined by the quality of the content, today it is defined by the quality of the content plus the quality of the experience. Said differently, viewers will quickly abandon poor experiences however good the content. Delivering on the promise, then, is the fundamental challenge of this latest evolution in the TV world.