Tuesday, February 05, 2013

GUEST POST -- Kirk Punches on "Binge Viewing", Netflix Style

This guest post is from Kirk Punches, VP Biz Dev & Strategy of online video leader Sorenson Media.  I work closely with Kirk -- and he has a great mind (and excellent insights).  Kirk blogs at "Technology Trends for a Multi-Screen World."

An interesting perspective from Andrew Wallenstein over at Variety in his article, "Analysis: Why Netflix must rethink binge viewing."  He argues that Netflix is making a mistake in releasing all 13 episodes of "House of Cards", the company's original scripted series that debuted this past Friday. His argument centers around the fact that releasing all episodes at once minimizes the opportunity to generate revenue because new subscribers may join, watch all of the episodes, and then cancel their membership. Because those same subscribers watch all at once, they won't become invested in the series and build buzz which in turn, won't drive additional subscribers.

While I appreciate Andrew's detailed analysis - I disagree with his argument. Sure, I might sit and watch all episodes in one sitting and cancel my membership but if the goal is to add new subscribers and add-value for existing subscribers (like me) then I think Netflix will succeed. The world has changed and most of us are busy - we like binge viewing (for the reasons Andrew lists) but it drives engagement, discussion, buzz, and additional viewing. That "thirst" for viewing episode after episode creates interest in other similar types of shows and movies. Instead of canceling a membership, subscribers will likely explore new series to watch - salivating to re-experience the satisfaction of episode after episode. Trust me, I know from first-hand experience how addicting this can be. A habit is formed and this becomes the norm, not the exception. The experience of watching multiple episodes also generates a deeper understanding of the plot and characters of a show- you become more invested. You want to get others involved. I've found myself easily getting 3 episodes deep into show, bleary-eyed and pausing on the big screen and continuing by tablet or even phone while traveling -Netflix makes this very, very easy and I believe releasing all episodes at once will be a success in driving revenue and subscriber growth.

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