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February 15, 2013

Binge-viewing transforms TV experience

(Continued)

“We’re finding that people who binge-view once binge-view again,” Magid Executive Vice President Jack MacKenzie said. “It’s the ‘you can’t eat just one’ kind of thing.”

This instant-gratification approach flouts network scheduling traditions.

Hollywood has always fed audiences a diet of, “Wait a week and we’ll give you new episodes, then wait a season, we’ll give you another season,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said.

“The Internet is attuning people to get what they want when they want it,” Sarandos said. “‘House of Cards’ is literally the first show for the on-demand generation.”

Netflix committed a reported $100 million for two seasons of “House of Cards,” based on a strong script and the pedigree of the creative team of director David Fincher (“The Social Network” and “Fight Club”) and writer Beau Willimon, who received an Oscar nomination for the 2011 political drama “The Ides of March.”

“We wanted to go all-in,” Sarandos said. “It’s important to signal ... that we’re moving into this space in a meaningful, big way. So we did it loud.”

If successful, the gambit could begin to unwind 60 years of serialized television convention — especially if others begin to emulate Netflix’s approach. So far, broadcast and cable programmers have shown no inclination to release multiple episodes simultaneously.

“I don’t think one show changes the television industry,” said Richard Greenfield, media analyst with BTIG. But “if this become replicated multiple times over by Netflix and others, absolutely.”

The instant-availability formula dispenses with cliffhangers designed to prevent the audience from fleeing during commercial breaks and woo them back for next week’s installment. There is no need for comprehensive recaps of the previous week’s episode because Netflix assumes that viewers won’t miss a beat.

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