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The Cable Show 2014: Binge Viewing Is Nothing New

Los Angeles — Binge viewing is often viewed as a scary concept, but a panel of industry execs at The Cable Show 2014 are quick to say that is not the case.

“We talk about binge viewing like it is kind of a new phenomenon…I think we invented binge viewing when we were marathoning kids’ shows over the course of the weekend,” said Ron Geraci, executive VP, research & planning, Nickelodeon Group.

Industry heavyweights Julie Piepenkotter, executive VP of research at FX Networks, Tom Ziangas, senior VP of research at AMC Networks, and Kim Lemon, executive VP of program planning, scheduling and research at Showtime Networks Inc., echoed Geraci’s statement during the “Binge Viewing Meets Big Data: New Insights into Video Consumption” panel on Wednesday.

The difference the panelists said is that consumers have more ways to binge content.

“I do think it’s this amazing time for the consumer and part of what’s driving the binge viewing is again it [multiple platforms] makes it easy,” said Piepenkotter. “It’s easy because there are so many places to engage with the content.”

Despite the plethora of ways viewers can watch their favorite shows, researchers aren’t seeing particularly massive amounts of binge viewing during a particular series’ season.

Lemon, citing Rentrak data, said that they see “moments of binge viewing.”

During the season, people don’t tend to watch a lot of episodes in a row, he added. Instead, they watch four or five episodes across the week. Occasionally, though, networks see spikes with events, such as in front of a premiere or finale or before an awards show.

The execs also said that those who do binge a program then watch that program on linear TV. So, the bottom line is that binge viewing is beneficial to everyone.

“We’re buying video,” said Piepenkotter. “We’re buying video online, we’re buying video on linear television and we’re buying video on VOD for plus. And I think it’s going to be nothing but just a boon to the business.”

Geraci added: “Video content is content no matter where it is, and I think that there has been a perception in the business that you’ve got to discount content that’s not on linear TV.”

But monetizing that content still is an issue and Piepenkotter says we are in the very early days of trying to figure that out.

One often overlooked platform is VOD, where viewers can’t fast forward through ads.

“I think VOD right now is probably the best kept secret,” said Ziangas.