Netflix Plans To Change How You Watch TV

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At the start of 2016, Netflix announced it will release 600 total hours of original content this year! (Do you know how long 600 hours is? If you were to watch Netflix’s original programming for 600 consecutive hours, with no sleeping or eating or bathroom breaks, you’d have to watch continuously for 25 days!)

Netflix’s head of content, Ted Sarandos, made this announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. He noted that Netflix is going to double their output of original TV shows up to 31 this year. They have 10 feature films, 12 documentaries and 10 stand-up comedy specials on the way, along with 30 shows for kids. (You can check out most of what’s coming on our “Streaming TV Coming Soon Grid.”

Has Netflix Already Changed How We Watch TV?

We’re starting to get used to the streaming giant’s new seasons of content being dumped on us all at once. At first, it was a little overwhelming because we were fitting in these new blocks of viewing into our normal pattern. But between DVRs and on-demand, we know that our regular network TV is still going to be there, ready for us to consume it when we want, too.

But many of us have also begun to binge-watch those very same network TV shows. How many times have you waited for something to build up two, three or four episodes (almost a month’s worth of network shows), before you sit down and plow through it?

What Does Network TV Think About Netflix’s Big Content Moves?

It’s interesting that NBC’s head of research, Alan Wurtzel, believes the binge-watching phenomenon isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.

He believes that after a few weeks of binge-watching a Netflix show, viewers go right back watching TV the way they did before – something called, “linear viewing.” Then the impact of Netflix’s content dump goes away. For instance, did last week’s “House of Cards” Season 4 release change how much you watched last week, but won’t change it as much this week.

He’s not altogether wrong, considering the facts he stated, saying that “Orange is the New Black” drew 23% of all viewers in its first week, but then it dropped off to just 3% in its fifth week. (This was data based on a report by SymphonyAM’s research.

An interesting point made by, in that same article, is that while Wurtzel noted the “ridiculously small” amount of time people spend on YouTube, people 13 to 24 years old spend more time watching free online video than regular TV. They also find it more entertaining and relevant to their lives!

But back to the Netflix point about how we watch TV –

SymphonyAM CEO Charlie Buchwalter clarified their research to Business Insider.

“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. 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%. By the time the ‘fourth week’ comes, it kind of runs its course, and they return to other programming.” – SymphonyAM CEO Charlie Buchwalter

The problem with NBC’s assertion that everything returns back to normal after a few weeks is that Netflix (and other sites dumping original content all at once) is ramping up their content in a big way.

Consider how many original streaming shows are already in production, going from Seasons 1 or 2 into Seasons 3 or 4, and now add to it how many new shows (and movies) these companies will release in 2016.

Netflix alone is releasing 30 original series – and 600 hours of original content – as we mentioned before. Then add in the Amazon Video shows that are in their second and third seasons, and the new pilots they’re producing a couple times a year.

There will be less down time for them to go back to linear TV watching.

There’s no question that Netflix has changed the way we watch TV – and I argue, they’re probably changing the way we consume other forms of content, as well.

Photo Credit: Annelogue

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