With each fall comes a new season premieres for over a hundred new TV shows, as well as the need to catch up on the backlog of missed episodes.
That said, I never really understood why cable TV providers forced customers to go elsewhere to find old episodes and the first few new episodes of the season that I didn’t even think to set my DVR for.
At least one cable provider, Comcast, was paying attention to these habits by providing a huge library of on-demand TV show content to kick off the 2013 season — a move that the company tells VentureBeat is definitely paying off.
Comcast said its response to offering substantially more video on-demand (VOD) content is that customers are actually watching more of it — about 27 percent more VOD viewing than the same period last year. That means it’s figuring out what shows people want to watch and catering to that crowd.
“Usually networks give us one or maybe two past episodes, and that’s it,” said Comcast VP of programming Maggie Suniewick in an interview with VentureBeat. She added that the company is seeing a direct correlation in people watching more of a particular show during premiere episodes when VOD content is available to help them catch up.
There’s is also some indication that the expanded VOD content strategy has boosted ratings on many new shows.
And even a tiny ratings bump is crucial for news shows that are looking to gain a second season, or at least make it to the end of their first. (Part of this comes down to the new three-day window that the research firm Nielsen focuses on after an episode premieres. But as that’s been in play for a while, allowing viewers to catch up on old shows might be even more important.)
While Comcast wasn’t able to provide information about individual show ratings, it did share some viewing activity for shows that had a backlog of VOD content available to its subscribers.
Here are three examples the company sent over for both new and old shows:
Bates Motel: Released the premiere episode over VOD as a pre-linear promotion three days prior to its live airing and saw a 35% increase in viewership from Comcast households.
Mad Men: By offering the complete previous season of Mad Men, the season six premiere a saw a 23% increase from the season five premiere in Comcast homes while non-Comcast markets saw a 11% decline.
Grimm: With the whole season banked for viewing, our total season viewership for Grimm was 58% higher than non-Comcast markets because viewers could jump in at any point and catch up.