NBC Embraces Binge Watching With 'Hannibal' Marathon

Feb 20 2014, 3:42pm CST | by

NBC Embraces Binge Watching With 'Hannibal' Marathon
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Netflix has brought binge watching to the masses. The services encourages it by releasing all episodes of a season at once. While no one is quite sure how many people have watched House of Cards season 2 in its first week, we can be pretty sure it’s a lot. And people who want to jump on the Breaking Bad bandwagon (late to be sure) can do it in a few weeks instead of few years thanks to Netflix.

But the broadcast networks have yet to find a way to make the binge-watching phenomenon work for them. Their model is built on audiences returning to a given station (hopefully at a given time but if not, within 3 days of that time) weekly to see the next episode of a show. They sell advertisers on that repeat business, not on fans watching everything all at once.

NBC might have found a clever way to use binge watching to its advantage. On the 23rd, the network is going to host a 13-hour binge watch of the first season of Hannibal. Dubbed the #13HourDevour , starting at noon on the 23rd, fans will be watching one show an hour either via iTunes, DVDs or Amazon Instant Video. Cast members and the show’s creators will be on Twitter and Tumblr talking to fans throughout the marathon and NBC will be giving away prizes.

From GigaOm:

The strategy behind the 13 Hour Devour, NBCU president of digital media Rob Hayes said in a phone interview, was simple: “How can we not only do something for the existing fans, but get people who are friends of the existing fans, or fans of the zeitgeist, interested. Binging is a great way to get fans involved.”

The new season of Hannibal starts February 28th.

Ratings haven’t been great for Hannibal but it does have its share of ravenous (pun intended) fans. The NBC experiment is really about seeing how much power those fans have to influence their friends. Only young people have 13 hours in a row to commit to watching a TV show. By creating an experience for them, maybe NBC will be able to juice ratings for the upcoming season.

While this may not spur the broadcast networks to change their models, it’s a good first step. It’s NBC acknowledging that people are watching TV in a different way and that they have different expectations of what that experience should be like. That’s especially true of young viewers. Maybe this is a small peak to see if one day, binge viewing will work for networks too.

Follow me on Twitter at DorothyatForbes.

Source: Forbes Business


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