Why Binge Watching Is a More Natural Way to Enjoy Entertainment
When magazines stopped serializing novels, and people instead bought entire books, nobody said fiction lovers were "binge reading," so Netflix's Todd Yellin asks why the term applies to TV.
Todd Yellin started working at Netflix over ten years ago and his current role as VP of Product Innovation revolves around changing the way people find great streaming content to watch over the Internet on their TVs, computers, and mobile devices. He is responsible for leveraging vast amounts of data, sophisticated algorithms, and best-in-class user interfaces across numerous viewing devices to create an easy, compelling way for Netflix members to find something great to watch. He also oversees member acquisition and how to best leverage social and messaging.
Before Netflix, as a documentarian, Todd became the only person ever to film Tibetan children escaping over the Himalayas; the footage was shown worldwide by Reuters. His written account was published in The Progressive and syndicated by the NYT. He also wrote/directed a short documentary for British TV on political oppression in Myanmar, which was broadcast throughout Europe.
Todd Yellin: So, it's interesting the term binging. At first when people started talking about Netflix binging I thought that would be a bad term for Netflix. It sounds very pathological and I don't know if that sounds very healthy and fun. But it actually took hold and we went with the flow. We didn't invent the term but we do lead to people binging through lots of TV shows. To us binging is really about consumer control. It's not about someone telling you you only get one hour a week and we're going to slowly parse it out of the story that you're enjoying, hold on our scenes from next week; tune in next Sunday at 8:00. It's not about that. It's about giving the control back to the consumer here's the whole story now watch as much as you want.
You know, it's been I think 170 years since anyone published a book, maybe there are examples online but it's very rare where they go we're only giving you one chapter and next week we'll give you the next chapter. They give you the whole book. You can read as much as you want or as little as you want on any given day and that's fine and that's the way TV should be. Give me the whole freaking story and then I can watch as much or as little as I want. So with that has led to some interesting behaviors. Yes, there are people when we release a show, whether a new season of Orange is the New Black comes out or House of Cards or Narcos, people will, there is a tiny minority of people who will just binge through to the whole thing in the exact amount of time from the second we launch it at midnight California time 13 hours later or however many hours are in the show they'll exactly finish. And that's a tiny percent.
Most people watch two to three episodes in an evening, sometimes longer on weekends. And it really depends on the show and it really depends on the consumer. Because what you might consider binging and what I might consider binging – because what you might consider binging and what I might consider binging could be two very different things. Me it could be a crazy binge to watch two whole episode oh my God in one night, and you might be binge, it's like seven episodes in a night. If I don't go to sleep at 3:00 a.m. and I'm falling asleep in front of the TV and practically drooling on the side of my mouth then I haven't really done a full all out binge.
When magazines stopped serializing novels, and people instead bought entire books, nobody said fiction lovers were "binge reading," so Netflix's Todd Yellin asks why the term applies to TV? At the beginning of his tenure at Netflix, Yellin didn't necessarily like the term binge watching since it implied overindulgence. But relatively few people actually binge watch, according to Netflix's definition; most users enjoy 2-3 episodes a nights. Still, the definition of binge watching varies from person to person, but it's better to let people watch when and how much they want, says Yellin.
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