Binge-watching or binge-viewing is a hot topic at the moment and rightfully so. After years of watching linear TV programming or catching up the episodes on VHS after the premiere, audiences and fans are embrassing the possibility to finally consume entertainment just the way they want to and for how long they want to. Like it pretty much is with every other consumer product. So, the digital revolution is finally catching up with serialized entertainment.
Before we came up with the term "binge-watching", people sloutching before TV for hours on end were called "couch potatoes". I remember my mom reminding me that "too much TV will rot my brain" and I should "go out, it´s a beautiful day" in the middle of my weekend marathon of "Knight Rider", taped on VHS of course. Binge-watching on the other hand, is socially acceptable and makes the linear television look old fashioned. Finally the audience has the control.
But is binge-watching something new? Yes and no. For the older generation, binge-watching is welcomed form to consume your favorite content, but if you look at the web-savvy and web-native younger generation binge-watching is nothing new. Because of the short format of online video, binge-watching is all you do and you do it several times a day. As the attention span gets shorter, it will further change the way entertainment is consumed in the future. And the change is already in motion, at least that´s what it looks like if you look at the figures. According to Sandvine, real-time video and audio entertainment traffic takes up most of the Internet's bandwidth and that means Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. And the time spent with these content providers is time taken from the traditional TV Networks, who now face a challenge that can be terminal for them.
Ad funded TV Networks need to figure out how to make revenue when viewers are in control and only want to watch the content, not the ads, for hours on end. And to make the situation even more challenging, brands who buy the ads are waking up to a new world where quality brand content can compete with the best entertainment for the attention of the audience. Take Chipotle´s short films "The Scarecrow" and "Back to the start". These are prime examples of brand content that captures the attention of the audience and can keep it for hours on end. And with a free channel like YouTube, why would Chipotle waste their media budget on advertisements, when investment in quality content pays off better. Now Chipotle just needs to mass produce it for the binge-watchers and they will have the attention of the masses for hours on end.