×

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

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

  • Crypt-TV-Facebook

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content