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PromaxBDA: Binge Watching Is Here to Stay

It's 'good for business,' panel says 6/20/2013 08:13:00 AM Eastern

Los Angeles -- Whether catching
up on a current favorite or consuming an entire series over the weekend,
watching multiple episodes of a series back-to-back benefits both the consumer
and the network.

That was according to panelists at Wednesday's
"Measuring the Binge Viewer: Fad or Future?" session moderated by
Zach Rosenberg, executive VP, chief growth officer, Horizon Media, during the 2013 PromaxBDA Conference.

John L. Young, VP of marketing for Comcast,
suggested that binge watching is not a new trend, just one that current
technology has made easier, recalling how he would spend hours in front of the
TV in the 70's watching Star
Trek
 marathons.

At least now, he said, viewers can discover
past seasons of a current series at any time and become regular watchers, echoing
a point made several times during other PromaxBDA sessions. "There's a
desire to watch something close to live and to be in that conversation,"
he said, which is a boon to networks and advertisers.

"There's an opportunity for monetization
for companies," agreed Cathy Hetzel, corporate president and president, AMI division, Rentrak.
And for subscribers to Netflix, Hulu, or a VOD service, she said,
"it's also an opportunity to watch a show that you wouldn't normally
watch."

While the panel agreed on the mutually
beneficial relationship between networks that offer up large numbers of
episodes at once and their customers, they also identified some potential areas
for growth. 

"The primary viewership is still
happening on the TV set," said Hetzel. Young attributed that partially to
a lack of downloadable content, explaining that when he's on a plane -- he
recently binge-watched old episodes of True
Blood
 -- he typically has to
resort to DVDs. "There are times when your best available screen can't
access the content. So we're asking for download rights," he said, adding,
"Viewers shouldn't be punished for a bad connection."

Dounia Turrill, senior VP, client insights,
Nielsen, agreed, acknowledging that companies have a ways to go in taking
seriously consumers' binge-viewing habits. She said that Nielsen is currently
devising ways to measure its impact. "Currently we capture live and VOD content well, and we
have a pilot for digital program ratings, that will give numbers for online
programs, and eventually we want to measure viewing on tablets and smart
phones."

November