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The One Where We Binged All The Episodes: Marketing To Media Consumers

It’s the year 2000. Your favorite TV show is Friends. To watch, you tuned in (on your Sony Trinitron Television) to NBC at 8:30 p.m., every Thursday (unless one of your friends with Tivo did you a solid and recorded the episode). 

Fast-forward to 2020. Your favorite show is still Friends (would it literally BE another show?) You just finished bingeing all 10 seasons on Netflix (don’t judge). Sometimes you watched it in your living room via your Roku and TV. Sometimes you caught it on the treadmill with your iPhone. Sometimes you watched it at work on your laptop (it’s cool, you’re a Transponster). 

Even if the shows haven’t changed, the how, when, and where we get our television has.  The onset of new technology has brought new viewing habits, and a lot of challenges and opportunities for consumers, marketers, and media organizations.


Old School Television – The Pace of Consumption

Before OTT streaming services and DVR devices, consumption occurred in real time (or near real time, if you taped shows on your VCR).  We knew what day and what time our favorite show was airing. For Friends, it was NBC, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.  We often called it appointment television, because you didn’t want to miss it so you made an appointment to watch.  And if you did miss the show, you missed out on the discussion and dialogue in the coming week. There was a community feel to your favorite show, because everyone was equidistant to the start, or finish, of the season.  We were all watching at the same pace, and therefore we were all talking about the same episode, at the same time.


Release the Binge!

With streaming services, those consumption patterns change due to the availability of content.  Many streaming services drop an entire series simultaneously, enabling the binge. This allows each viewer to watch at a different pace, and places fans at different points in the season, based on their free time.  While I may watch four episodes of Narcos: Mexico this Saturday night, my friends only watch two  episodes, placing us at different points in the story, and changing the way we discuss the show.  Suddenly, I hold the power of the spoiler, and must be cautious not to say too much. The recent exception to this change is Game of Thrones, where HBO released shows each Sunday.  Think of the different experience we had as fans and viewers of GoT versus other series that drop the entire episodic series of a single season simultaneously. As a result of the binge, organizations must strategize when and how to release content, and how it may affect marketers, fans, and their organization.  

As consumption patterns change, additional organizational opportunities and challenges arise.  For example, thirty-seven percent of viewers will binge a show, and then go to a different platform.   With so much content, so many options and a finite amount of free time, it’s more important than ever to think through the consumer experience,  how to find and engage with fans, keep them interested in your content, all while monetizing the streaming service.  

Next week’s blog will tackle OTT topics that affect consumers, marketers, production, distribution and how data and information technology support the changing streaming landscape, such as: 

  1. The Consumer:  How do consumption options, devices and social media expand and modify the viewer experience?  
  2. The Marketer:  How to promote awareness of shows and influence engagement with fans?
  3. The Executive:  How to enable an organization to take advantage of IT, data, and operations to monetize the steaming experience?

The bottom line is you need relevant content, viewer attention, and subscriptions to create a positive user experience that’s compelling. A lot of the streaming services are racing into the market and will quickly need to address fatigue from consumers and bring compelling content to their screens.

Which brings us back to Friends. After years and years of rumors of a reunion, the fans are finally getting what they want (sort of), and you only have to subscribe to a new streaming service (HBO Max) to watch it.   It’s happening…


Meet The Author

Tim Mosa is Managing Director at Lev, with nearly 20 years of experience in marketing technology consulting, primarily serving clients in the Media, Sports Entertainment and Gaming sectors.   Born and raised in Southern California, Tim also sits on the Board of Directors for Run Seal Beach, a non-profit 5k/10k race which has donated more than $1.8M to local youth athletics in the past 15 years.