mardi 7 février 2012

TV Time: A Question of Dosage?

How do you watch TV? When ?
Watching TV used to be simple. On Thursday, it was "The Cosby Show" on NBC at 7:00 (CT) - every Thursday of the TV season - with few exceptions. Plus reruns in the summer. It was simple for TV viewers, families and even mediaplanners.
Then came the VCR and DVR/PVR, videocassettes and DVDs. People were able to watch a full season of "Desperate Housewiwes" in a single weekend. With no commercial breaks. Finally, one could skip the credits. No schedule: TV on "OUR" demand.
Non linear TV. Freedom to watch. If you pay, of course.

This month Netflix and Hulu, two major video services, are streaming series they just produced (scripted originals). They made two different choices, two release policies.
  • Hulu makes its programs (like "Battleground") available on a weekly basis. Every Tuesday, starting on Valentine's Day. It follows the network model for TV series: Hulu belongs to the studio networks (ABC, Fox, NBC)... People will wait for the next episode and talk about it, "like" and tweet during the week. Hulu counts on social media like Facebook and Twitter to build reputation, awareness and buzz (word of mouth, sharing, recommendation, etc.). It is like a branding strategy.
  • Netflix makes all 8 episodes of "Lilyhammer" available at once. It is trying to (re)build its subscribership. 
  • Amazon seems to also plan on producing programs... 
Two ways to spend TV time. Two ways to publish
  • During the nineteenth century, novel publishers used the same strategy: a chapter every week to start with (serialized novels) and then, at the end, all at once, an entire book. Thus were published Dickens, Balzac, Tolstoy, etc.
  • Often now, a series gives birth to a movie at the end of its television life ("24", "Gunsmoke", "Mission Impossible", etc.).

4 commentaires:

Bastien Crochet a dit…

Personally, I think that the real issue is advertising.

American people are fed up with unceasing commercial breaks that cut their programs into three or more pieces. That would explain why they changed their ways to spend TV time. They watch TV, despite commercial breaks, only if the show is worth it. They watch TV because of the quality of the show, or (you said it) because of the branding strategy of the studio, which creates buzz. If not, whether they give up the show, whether they find another solution to watch it, such as Internet video services (Hulu, Netflix, or Megaupload few weeks ago).

So yes, I think you’re right: TV time is a question of dosage.

Bird_face a dit…

I don't think the only issue is advertising. First of all, Americans are so used to it that they are not as scandalized as us when they watch TV. Second, I think another explanation of this phenomenon is that people are getting used to a temporal personnalized viewing: I want to watch what I want when I want (and not when the network wants it). I want to watch all the different episodes of a TV show because I prefer an afternoon of stories rather than weeks of lingering. Viewers want to choose their own TV dosage.

Anonyme a dit…

Technological advances such as VCRs with the ability to record television episodes, DVD box sets and the advent of the Internet which has enabled us to both stream and download television shows, have changed the way we watch television and of course, the dosage of television being consumed by viewers. However, I also think that it has changed how we are 'digesting' our television consumption. As you mentioned in your example about 'The Cosby Show', television used to be much more basic. Today, we can watch television when we want, increase the dosage and since we have the episodes at our disposal, paying close attention to what is on the screen becomes 'optional' in a way because of the ever present possibility to re-watch the episode. On that note, I also think that having all these television shows at our disposal has had an effect on our attentiveness when watching television. We multitask while watching tv and missing a moment or two of the action isn't such a big deal because we can always 'rewind' or skip ahead to the dozens of other episodes which are at our disposal.
-Carmela (unifr)

Dani unifr a dit…

Personally I think that the traditional model with broadcasting on a weekly basis will remain dominant in the near future. Although the Internet and the availability of content (such as TV series) have changed watching patterns, people tend to stay with regular watching opportunities. I see there at least two arguments to define this position. First, people do not only watch television to entertain themselves or just to relax, but also as a social activity. Humans are creatures of habit. They like to reserve a certain spot to “watch TV” regardless of the actual content of a series. Then, they also enjoy watching these series with friends or discussing the latest plot twists in online community boards. Viewed in this light, it makes much more sense to release new episodes in certain time intervals. Then secondly, exclusivity is key. Even though TV series (even current TV series!) can be downloaded quickly after a while in several ways (Torrent, Online Linking Sites…) studies indicate, that people do not watch series “all at once” but keep on track with current series. This means that people download the latest episode as soon as it can be found on the Internet. People do have a higher preference for being able discussing latest twists and developments rather than just watch it in a single stroke. This is especially the case for all the countries or regions were the actual television program where a series is broadcasted, cannot be received. And on top of that, they don’t even have to watch all the TV ads!