BBC: British Binge-watching Corporation?

This month, Merriam-Webster added “binge-watch” to its dictionary, which it defines as “to watch many or all episodes of (a TV series) in rapid succession”. In Ampere’s latest UK consumer survey, 53.9% of respondents regularly watch multiple episodes back-to-back with 16-24 and 25-34 year olds over-indexing for binge-watching. Recent developments from British public broadcaster the BBC suggest that it, too, is embracing “binge-watch” culture:

•    BBC partnered with ITV to launch SVoD service, BritBox, in the US, allowing US subscribers on-demand access to a suite of British content.

•    It intends to scrap “linear exclusivity” and release an entire series of a show on iPlayer before linear broadcast in the hope of keeping up with industry giants; Netflix and Amazon.

•    Selected TV series, including recent dramas Taboo and Apple Tree Yard will be available as box sets for 30 days from the date of the airing of the final episode. This is rather than its blanket “30 day catch-up” model on all content which meant that consumers joining a series more than a month into a show run were unable to catch up with the earliest episodes.

Although Netflix and Amazon typically launch an entire original series at once, it is not always the way. Amazon’s The Grand Tour for instance, opted instead to release episodes on a weekly basis. The BBC’s move online has also extended to turning its millennial-geared channel, BBC Three, into an online-only service. It also closed a legal loophole which allowed consumers viewing non-linear content on the iPlayer service to evade the £145.50 per year TV licence fee.  

The likelihood of a UK respondent agreeing with the statement “I frequently watch several episodes of the same TV show back-to-back” has seen minimal year-on-year change - 54.6% in Q3 2015 vs. 53.9% in Q4 2016.  However, there has been an increase in this figure among those who have used either Netflix or Amazon Instant Video in the previous month, whereas BBC has seen little year-on-year change. This suggests that this move may increase the likelihood to binge-watch for BBC iPlayer users, or encourage more of those who enjoy binge-watching to use BBC iPlayer.