The Binge is Back!


Written by on Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sensationalist headlines aside, addiction has always been a part of human nature. Just look at the success of the gambling, alcohol, tobacco, sex and various other industries (I’ll leave those up to your imagination) over the course of human existence for proof. So it’s no surprise that now with all the access they want people love to binge on video content.

Stories become a big part of viewers’ lives and they subsequently want to consume video content sequentially, episode after episode. They want to feed their addiction; they are dying to find out what happens next and stay within the world the content has created for them.

However since video has traditionally been released in incremental installments, piece by piece, viewers have had to wait until the content they are craving is made available on the schedule the distributor (broadcast and cable television networks) deems appropriate.

Today this just doesn’t work! Audiences have the power and access; they can view what they want, whenever they want it. So in order to please audiences distributors need to act accordingly. But should they? Is it in their best interest to give content to viewers all at once and let them decide when to view it?

Online Video-On-Demand services like Netflix now offer viewers the ability to view all of the content in their catalogue whenever they want, and they actually push viewers into sequential viewing patterns by auto queuing episodes one after another. Not only that but with their Netflix Originals series, which they launched this year, all of the episodes from a single season are released simultaneously so viewers are free to watch as much (or as little) as they want.

Millions of people had binge viewing attacks for a few of their originals series, such as the Emmy winning House of Cards, Orange is The New Black, and the much anticipated revival of Arrested Development. Arrested Development is a great example of binge viewing as it became popular through dvd sales and file-sharing rather than it’s broadcast on Fox, which was subsequently cancelled after its third season due to low viewer ratings. Since Arrested Development’s viewers were already accustomed to viewing the series episode after episode, and the fact that the series piles in-joke atop in-joke requiring the audience to really pay attention, it only made sense to release all the episodes for the new season at once on the binge-friendly Netflix.

marketingcharts.com’s chart displays the popularity of binge viewing In America - from the article Half of Americans “Binge View” TV Shows

Marketingcharts.com’s chart displays the popularity of binge viewing In America – from the article Half of Americans “Binge View” TV Shows

But with 15 episodes averaging around 35 minutes apiece, the season comes in at around 9 hours. Watching it all in one sitting can be a little cumbersome and even Mitch Hurwitz, the show’s creator, doesn’t advise attempting it;  “You’ll get tired!”. While we all can’t/probably shouldn’t watch 9 hours of straight video, we nevertheless seem to want to have the ability and choice to do so (the graph below shows just how popular binge viewing has become in America).

There are still some major detractors to binge viewing and the all at once release model, and they aren’t just limited to the obviously binge adverse cable and broadcast networks. Amazon’s video-on-demand service for one, aren’t as keen as Netflix to jump on the simultaneous release train and they aren’t releasing episodes for their original series, such as the politico meets frat boy comedy Alpha House, all at once. People are also questioning Netflix about the financial implications that may come from releasing a whole season of originals content straight away.

Whether these platforms, new or old, are willing to offer simultaneous releases or not, they are going to have to get used to a changing viewing behaviour that demands more access and freedom to view on their terms. As Nielsen’s recent poles can attest, people want to binge! While there are many valid arguments for each type of content release (scheduled programming vs all at once & on-demand) audiences want it all and they want it now! The question is, how can the distributors make that work for their bottom line and keep audiences engaged over longer periods?

About the author

Malcolm is an online media entrepreneur (co-founder of mobile music service Clerkd), copywriter and lover of tacos, whiskey, music, & TV. He was born in Dublin, grew up in Sydney & now resides in sunny Helsinki.

Why Google Helpouts Is an Opportunity for Brands


Written by on Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Google Helpouts guitar session

Helpouts is Google’s new service that wants to connect users with experts. For brands, it means interacting with customers one-on-one via live video. 

It’s been three months since the launch of Helpouts, Google’s new video market place. Helpouts utilizes Hangouts technology and allows users to connect with experts directly to solve problems and learn new skills. For example, if you want to learn how to play the guitar, you can book a live tutorial with a music teacher.

The experiment started small in November with five brands and about a thousand pre-screened experts in eight categories including fitness and nutrition, computers and electronics, health, and cooking. Out of the pilot brands, Sephora and Rosetta Stone are offering sessions in their area of expertise for a fee, while Weight Watchers doesn’t charge for consultations.

One of the benefits of traditional videos is the possibility to communicate cost effectively with a number of consumers over time. You produce a video for a fixed cost and try to get as many views to get the cost-per-view down, or alternatively, estimate your reach and desired cost per view and use that to define your production budget.

With Helpouts, the fixed costs can be higher because a brand representative has to spend, let’s say, a half an hour one-on-one with each customer. But there are also significant benefits:

  • Value creation: Teaching consumers how to make the most out of your product means they get more bang for their buck
  • Feedback: Your customers will give you input on your product and service and you’ll be the first to learn about how their needs are changing
  • Brand advocacy: When you build personal relationships with individual customers, you have a better chance of turning them into brand advocates
  • Experience: Helpouts is ultimately a channel for experiential marketing, allowing brands to create memorable experiences for their customers
  • Revenue: Instead of buying views for how to videos, companies can charge users for sessions. That raises the bar for the offering, but it can also be an opportunity to generate revenue.
About the author

Vilja Sormunen looks after publishing and distribution at online video agency KLOK. She has previously worked in social marketing at Nokia as the global YouTube channel lead, online marketing at e-commerce company Spreadshirt and public relations at TBWA/Helsinki. Vilja studied international business at the Helsinki School of Economics and wrote her Master's thesis on viral marketing.