Netflix And ‘Binge Watching’: NBC Has No Clear Idea About It

Netflix entered into a public spat with NBC in January over which was better and more relevant to television’s future. NBC used startup SymphonyAM’s data to claim that it had figured out how many people actually watch Netflix. Netflix’s viewership data has been a secret as the company never discloses user data.

Netflix binge-watching: not really?

Alan Wurtzel, head of research at NBC, raised one major point that the so-called binge-watching revolution was “mostly a bunch of smoke and mirrors,” says a report from Business Insider. However, this is not right since Wurtzel has not taken the scale of Netflix’s new content operations into consideration.

Wurtzel said that people binge-watch a Netflix show only for a few weeks, after which they go back to watching TV in a normal manner. Wurtzel even declared that the streaming firm was not at all a threat to traditional TV.

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The theory behind it

Business Insider tried to find out the data that led Wurtzel to make such comments. For this, it approached SymphonyAM CEO Charlie Buchwalter.

“When a streaming original goes live, for people that are drawn to it in the first week, it’s going to take a significant portion of their viewership,” Buchwalter said. “They go deep. They might have substituted 20-25% of time away from normal programming. Then when you get to ‘week two,’ that number goes to the teens, 15-20%, then by ‘week three,’ 8-9%.”

When the fourth week arrives, it kind of “runs its course, and they return to other programming,” Buchwalter said.

What’s the catch?

All this makes sense since it is typical of Netflix to release all the episodes of a particular show at once. So it does not come as a surprise that it makes a big initial splash and then goes away.

“But that’s when NBC’s reasoning starts to go sideways,” says BI.

The problem with NBC’s reasoning is that Wurtzel assumes that Netflix will have a few hits in a year, and this is not right. If the streaming firm chooses to produce enough quality shows, “then the next ‘binge bomb’ will go off before the effect of the last one has dissipated,” says BI.

If this actually happens, TV will be in trouble with no options to save a part of its audience from going to Netflix.