SymphonyAM, a data technology and research firm that passively measures integrated cross-media consumption, has revealed the findings from their report about the positive impact that streaming back seasons has on current broadcast TV shows. The study found that an average of 38 per cent of viewers who watched a back season across any platform during the weeks leading up to a season premiere also watched the current season. It also revealed that drama programmes are the most likely to have back season viewing and that Netflix is the primary source of most of this back season viewing.
While streaming platforms might concern broadcast TV companies, SymphonyAM’s data shows that a gain of up to 11 per cent of new viewers of the current season are earned in the early weeks a programme is on air, due to back viewing. The study found that a majority of back season binging can be attributed to viewers who began watching a new show but preferred to do so from the first season. This was followed by viewers who wanted a refresh on previous seasons, prior to starting the current one.
“We’re seeing changes in viewing behaviours and habits over recent years that is altering the way the entire television industry earns, maintains and loses viewers,” said Charles Buchwalter, CEO of SymphonyAM. “But regardless of the massive success of streaming platforms and its content, broadcast and cable TV programmes are still garnering strong audience numbers, a portion of which is actually coming from the success of these new viewing methods.”
As SymphonyAM tracked the path of viewers, they found that drama programmes were the most likely to attract current season viewers through a back season, while sitcoms showed the least overlap of season viewing. Within the drama genre, there was distinction between shows with a strong story arc that played throughout an entire season versus a series with self-contained storylines. Shows such as How To Get Away With Murder (ABC), Empire (Fox), and Scandal (ABC) proved to have the most viewers watching back seasons followed by the current. Each of these programmes had at least half of the current season viewers watch some of the previous season in the weeks leading up to the current season premiere. However, crime dramas such as Criminal Minds and NCIS, did not hold as strong a viewership from back season viewing to the current.
SymphonyAM revealed that Netflix is the primary source for viewers who watched back seasons during September 2015, prior to the new fall season kick off, with 38 per cent of viewing being consumed from the Netflix platform. Broadcast followed by accounting for 24 per cent and VoD represented 17 per cent of time spent. 43 per cent of back season viewing occurred during primetime hours throughout the week, with family and friend recommendations being the main driver for viewers seeking new content.