It’s confirmed: we have reached the age of binge-watching, an era where viewers are no longer held captive by primetime show schedules or even DVR box memory capacity.
We have the freedom to access our shows online anytime and from any internet-enabled device. Networks have started to catch onto this trend and have taken advantage of this new distribution form by posting episodes and extras online after new episodes air on television.
Then there was cable, where HBO posted their content online through HBO Go. But, no one seemed to grasp the idea of binge-watching without restriction faster and better than Netflix.
As we have seen over the past couple of years, Netflix has applied its understanding of new viewing trends to create and stream its own original content, completely bypassing the studio-to-network-to-syndicated distribution structure. And, most importantly, it has been met with tremendous success.
Why bring this up now? Netflix just released its second season of House of Cards last Friday, and its popularity has skyrocketed. Procera, a broadband data company that provides Internet traffic management for broadband providers, reported that 16% of all Netflix subscribers watched at least one episode of the show in the first 24 hours it went live.
House of Card‘s popularity is not just evident by the growth in Netflix subscribers and total number of viewers. According to a report released by Citi analysts Mark May and Kevin Allen, the amount of times the term “House Of Cards” was Googled is up 76% over the last year. In addition, the amount of times “Netflix” was searched is up 15%.
Many agree that the key to Netflix’s success has been the quality of its programming. Netflix understands that now that everyone else has caught on, just offering content online will not make the cut. Just like with cable, the Internet streaming company understands that to attract subscribers, its original content must offer something that viewers cannot get anywhere else.
Consequently, Netflix understands the importance of providing the right amount of cash to create a finished product that is aesthetically pleasing and features innovative plot lines with contemporary themes/conflicts. We see this not only with House of Cards but also with Netflix’s other creations, including Orange is the New Black and Hemlock Grove.
Netflix’s success with its original shows begs the question…will it ever adopt a more formulaic episodic release schedule to mirror broadcast networks and even cable, or will it continue with its “I do what I want” methodology? Will the television, with its regimented seasons and time slots, eventually become obsolete, replaced by this new technology? What do you think? Leave your comments below!