One of the biggest changes in the way we watch television involves watching an entire season after it has originally aired. This phenomenon, known as “binge-watching,” has a firm hold on us here at Prejean Creative.
Marketers are closely watching this change in viewing habits, due to the lack of commercials during the program. This has huge ramifications for the way TV programming is typically paid for by the networks and how marketers reach these audiences.
If someone can stream an entire season of a hit show without the interruptions, how likely are they to watch the show the first time it airs with ads? Of course, HBO/Cinemax/Showtime don’t rely on commercials for their business plan, but the competition from NetFlix for original programming will also threaten their niche. It remains to be seen how the long-term implications shake out, but in the meantime, we’re having a bit of fun with this indulgent behavior.
What Makes a Bingeable Show?
Well-known TV critic, Verne Gay of Newsday recently noted, “Most TV is suitable for grazing only, if that.” So, what could possibly motivate someone to go beyond grazing and adopt a six-course meal approach of binge-watching?
He came up with six qualifications that make for the most bingeable of shows.
1. Shows should ideally have an ongoing narrative. When one episode ends, you should be left with a burning desire to know what happens in the next episode.
2. You should care about the characters.
3. You should always have an abiding assumption that this long journey you’ll be embarking on will actually have an end, and that each episode will be a step toward finality.
4. It has to be fun. You are going on a long trip (and) this trip had better be fun.
5. It’s informative with some redeeming quality such as good actors, or production values, or writing.
6. No commercials. Binging isn’t about stopping and starting, or getting hit over the head with ad after ad after ad. That’s one reason why binging is suddenly hot – an escape from an endless stream of hard sell.
Why Are Our Eyes So Bloodshot? TV Binges.
Using the latest scientific consumer polling techniques (OK, we sent an email around), the Prejean Creative team was queried on which shows they binge-watch and why. The results reveal more than their company bios.
Lisa shared some thoughts on her top three binges.
The Walking Dead
During the last few weeks, I caught up on this show from the beginning so I could be up-to-speed for the start of season 5. I had resisted watching this show up until now, because I thought, “Zombies? Really?” However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s much more than that. Although some episodes have a few weak plot moments, and the blood and guts are overdone in my opinion, it’s definitely worth following.
House of Cards
Just perfection. Watch it.
A counterbalance to all that gore and wickedness from the other two, and I love a good period drama. The Crawley family and their house staff provide lots of drama and scandal, but are so much more “civilized” about it. History and fabulous costumes, too.
Kim Bonin Chandler
As the numbers lady around the shop, Kim’s expertise is in making the columns add up. It is therefore interesting that her favorite shows to binge-watch are much more right-brained. Her favorite shows to binge on?
Kim notes, “I enjoy the romance of Once Upon a Time and I love the era of Downton Abbey.
Intrigue, fantasy and comedy are some of the traits that describe Kevin. It is therefore logical that his three favorite shows to binge on are:
When asked about his preference for watching one episode after another, Kevin said he preferred binge-watching because the quality of certain television production and writing is outstanding. “I can explore at my leisure, on my own schedule.”
“I can also keep up with complex story lines more easily and there is less time between episodes. (I can knock out 2-4 episodes in an evening.) The less time between episodes, means less time dwelling on each episode’s ending cliff hanger.”
Brent’s laid-back personality belies an action figure penchant. His favorite shows to binge-watch include:
“I binge-watch them for all the same reasons Kevin outlined. Another reason is my schedule. It is so crazy with the kids that I can’t watch anything live or usually miss too many episodes to keep up. Sitting down and watching 2 or 3 episodes to catch up is all I can do. Without Netflix or on-demand type applications I wouldn’t be able to invest in a show.”
After a rough week at the office, I enjoy murder and mayhem…and LOTS of it. It is for these simple criteria that my better half and I have recently binged on these blood-soaked, video delicacies.
A friend who’s a cop told me he “knew” these two guys from his professional life and their characters are dead-solid perfect.
International intrigue, substance abuse and governmental conspiracies. What’s not to like?
Two words: James Spader. Well actually, that’s his name, not two words. But you get my drift.
Gary LoBue, Jr.
I’m binge-watching these programs because I’m all about time management. Or maybe it’s just the lack of time in general. With two young children at home, my time is devoted to them first and foremost.
Time is like currency. It’s very precious and there’s never enough of it.
I once heard that if a shark stops swimming they die. Well, if I don’t read, I die. Depending upon the subject matter of the book and my general interest level, the binge-watching could be thrown to the floor and I stick with the printed matter. Once the nightly reads are done then it’s, boom, fire up some Netflix®, On Demand or HBO GO®.
Here are three of my favorites:
Because it’s Benedict “Effing” Cumberbatch playing Sherlock “Effing” Holmes; not to mention the brilliant Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. Intriguing, smart, pithy, maintains a high production value and it’s just so damn British.
Person of Interest
Gee, let me see, it’s only executive-produced by a couple of guys who go by the names of J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan (brother of Chris). Jonathan penned a few minor movies. I think the titles were The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Memento and the forthcoming Matthew McConaughey flick, Interstellar. And it stars big Jim Caviezel in the lead role. It’s the only “big three network” TV series I’ll watch.
Possibly the best network science fiction series ever produced that you’ve never heard of. Exec-produced and directed by Joss Whedon, Firefly has this amazing humanistic approach and vibe. It’s not about the science fiction as much as it’s about human nature and human interaction. The storyline just happens to take place in the future. Based in part on the American Civil War, Firefly is part of the space-western niche genre.
As the newest member of the Prejean Creative team, Andre’s binge-watching choices show his personality is eclectic enough to fit right in. Here are three of his favorites.
Turning the“family drama” formula on its head, Shameless does a great job of blending comedy with genuine struggle. Between plotting to steal disability checks from a dead aunt, selling drugs to local kids out of an ice cream truck, or getting a black market kidney transplant in a warehouse, the show manages to create characters that are dynamic and relatable with issues that you believe and care about. Shameless will bring you from extreme humor to extreme emotional turmoil all within the same scene.
This is a half-hour comedy from creator Dan Harmon set in Greendale Community College about a small group of students who meet up to study Spanish, but end up doing everything under the sun but that. Putting a twist on The Breakfast Club formula, each member of the group has some defining dysfunctional tendency that ultimately brings them together as a group. Community is a very smart comedy that delivers jokes at a lightning pace, piling them one on top of another and running some jokes over a span of multiple episodes.
Game of Thrones
Does anyone really need a description for Game of Thrones at this point? Dynamic fantasy setting, a ton of characters, and unpredictable deaths of all the ones you like.
Now you know why there is a lot of yawning at Prejean Creative! With all of these choices, if you’re not a binge-watcher now, you might decide to become one. So, where’s the popcorn?