More TV networks follow Netflix to binge-watching model

Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:22am EST
 
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Traditional TV networks are following Netflix Inc's (NFLX.O: Quote) lead by releasing all new episodes of a series at the same time, a step to win over binge viewers who do not want to wait a week for the next installment.

The move poses a direct challenge to Netflix and a way for more traditional networks to reach for younger, digital-savvy consumers who insist on watching on their own schedules.

Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote) network Freeform, which targets a younger audience, put the entire 10-episode season of new sci-fi drama "Beyond" on digital and on-demand platforms on Jan. 2, a first for the channel. By Jan. 10, it was ready to order a second season.

"There are moments when it's really hard to make a decision about a pickup," Freeform President Tom Ascheim said, announcing the renewal at a Television Critics Association event. "This is not one of those moments."

Roughly 14 million people watched "Beyond" on TV and online during the first week. About 745,000 have finished the season on various platforms, the network said.

In its earnings report this week, Netflix highlighted growing competition from rivals that are adopting the strategy. Britain's BBC, for example, announced earlier this month it would distribute full seasons of major series on its digital platform before the episodes run on traditional linear television.

"We presume HBO is not far behind the BBC," Netflix added. A spokesman for HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: Quote), had no comment.

"In short, it's becoming an internet TV world, which presents both challenges and opportunities for Netflix as we strive to earn screen time," Netflix said.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO --  The Netflix logo is pictured on a television in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas, California, U.S., January 18, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo