×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Networks Challenge Netflix With New Binge-Streaming Strategy

April 10 will be a big day for bingeing. All 13 episodes of Steven Soderbergh’s series “The Girlfriend Experience” will be available to stream that morning, as will all six episodes of Andrew Dice Clay’s new comedy “Dice.” But neither show will stream on Netflix, the company that made binge viewing a thing. “The Girlfriend Experience” will premiere on Starz, and “Dice” will bow on Showtime, dropping on their respective digital and on-demand platforms hours ahead of their cable-television debuts.

Having watched subscription video-on-demand services generate massive buzz by delivering seasons of shows in toto, some television programmers have taken to binge releasing as a way to set their product apart in the too-much-TV era. And more are following suit.

“Broadcast is starting to replicate SVOD, that’s for sure,” said TBS executive vice president of programming Brett Weitz.

TBS made comedy “Angie Tribeca” available to stream when it premiered in January, part of a marketing offensive for the show that included a 25-hour marathon on the linear cable network. Parent company Turner Broadcasting had already experimented with binge releasing last year with TNT drama “Public Morals.” NBC did the same with summer drama “Aquarius.”

According to Weitz, shifts in viewer habits have made such moves low-risk.

“Those who consume on VOD and SVOD are a different consumer base than those who are going to consume things linearly,” he said.

But results have been mixed. “Angie Tribeca” had already been picked up for a second season when it premiered. “Public Morals” had not, and was canceled after its first. The drama debuted
to a decent 519,000 viewers 18-49 in Nielsen live-plus-seven numbers, but quickly fell off. The series finale drew fewer than half that number.

More precipitous was the decline of “Aquarius.” The series bowed to 1.9 million viewers in the demo, but the finale drew only 490,000. NBC renewed “Aquarius” nonetheless, citing multiplatform success. But the network hasn’t made a decision regarding future release strategy.

Ad-supported NBC and TNT can draw a straight line from bad ratings to low revenue; premium networks such as Showtime and Starz, not so much. Dependent on subscriber dollars only, the premium nets are emulating the streaming services in more than just scheduling strategy. In December, Starz announced a deal that allows Amazon Prime customers to subscribe to the network without a cable subscription. Showtime has similar deals with Amazon and Hulu. It makes sense for the premium cablers to deliver product to a growing base of paying
customers, digital or otherwise.

“Once you subscribe to Showtime, we’re happy to share our programming with you; that’s the beginning, middle and end,” said Showtime programming president Gary Levine. “Exactly what the timing is — exactly what device you watch it on — is practically irrelevant to us.”

More Digital

  • The Frontier

    Conecta Fiction: Project Pitches Prizes Passed Out in Pamplona

    On Wednesday evening the Spanish city of Pamplona was overrun, not by bulls, but by hopeful TV creators who had spent the early week pitching their projects at Conecta Fiction, and who anxiously waited to find out the titles which would take home silverware. Meanwhile, “Monzón,” a Disney-Pampa-Incaa production portraying the tragic violence of Argentine [...]

  • YouTube logo

    Why Splitting Up YouTube Is a Terrible Idea

    Facing mounting pressure over failures to protect children from inappropriate content, Google is reportedly considering a number of changes to its video sharing site YouTube. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that one of the ideas circulated internally was to effectively split up YouTube, and spin out all children’s content into the existing YouTube Kids [...]

  • Niantic's Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Game

    ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ to Launch This Week

    “Pokemon Go” maker Niantic is getting ready to launch its next big game: “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is set to launch in June 21, the company revealed in a tweet this week. The worldwide launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite begins this Friday, June 21! Keep your eyes peeled and wand ready for more information [...]

  • google podcast creator program

    Google, PRX Unveil Second Slate of Their Podcasts Creator Program (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roughly a year after first unveiling its podcasts creator program, Google is renewing its commitment to train budding podcasters. Together with public radio and podcast distributor PRX, Google has chosen 6 podcasters from around the world to participate in the next round of the creator program. The podcasts included in the second cohort are “37 [...]

  • Camila Cabello

    Camila Cabello Reveals Podcast Obsessions, Teases New Album at Cannes Lions

    Camila Cabello was the featured speaker at a Tuesday afternoon panel at Cannes Lions, the annual gathering of marketing, design and entertainment professionals in the south of France. Joined by Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, the talk, moderated by Variety editor Shirley Halperin, was centered around the theme of the golden age of sound [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Quibi Has Already Booked $100 Million in Ad Sales, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Say

    Quibi, the ambitious short-form video venture from Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, has sold $100 million in upfront ad inventory with six advertisers ahead of its April 2020 debut. Advertisers that have committed ad spending to Quibi include Google, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Walmart, Progressive and AB InBev, according to the company. The $100 [...]

  • China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact

    China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact With Malaysia's Astro

    Astro Malaysia, Malaysia’s leading pay-TV operator, has struck a strategic agreement with Chinese streaming platform iQIYI. Astro obtains the exclusive rights to deliver iQIYI content on TV, on-demand and via OTT in Malaysia. It will launch the first iQIYI-branded channel comprising iQIYI’s extensive slate of original content from drama to variety shows and movies. Astro [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content