We can say with near certainty that we have never seen an era in television with quite so many options for programming. New shows premiere all the time, but not everyone is watching. It's a phenomenon that has baffled many networks, and annoyed plenty of fans, as strong TV shows fail to generate new viewership and end up on the chopping block. However, a new study seems to have figured out precisely why people don't start watching new shows more regularly, and it all has to do with availability.
During recent Television Critics Association summer press tour event in Los Angeles (via EW), NBC President of Research and Media Development Alan Wurtzel presented some striking findings. A new study revealed that over half of surveyed TV viewers claim that they have no interest in watching new episodes of a given series if they do not have easy access to earlier episodes of the show in order to catch up. In fact, 75% of television viewers claim that they would be far more willing to watch primetime television if they had an easy method of watching previous episodes of a given season.
Beyond that, roughly 72% of the study's respondents also said that they would be far more likely to start watching a newer show if they had a means of getting caught up between seasons. You probably already have a sense of where this research is taking us. This means that the easiest way for a show like The Flash or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to drive new viewership is to make sure that completed seasons make their way to major streaming platforms like Netflix so alternative fans can "discover" them. If the season premiere of a major television series happens to be on the horizon, having an entire library of binge-able episodes will bring in new fans. This study appears to provide quantifiable rationale as to why certain shows with smaller live TV fanbases simply don't survive for very long.
Some networks have begun establishing certain practices in order to abide this request. For example, in anticipation of Supergirl's second season at its new home on The CW, the network has taken the summer to air its entire first season so The CW's loyalists have a chance to get caught up. In a similar fashion, networks such as AMC have been known to air every single episode of a series like The Walking Dead prior to a highly anticipated season premiere in order to maintain a sense of continuity. These methods definitely help get audiences up to date, but they're still no substitute for having instant, on-demand access to a show's previous episodes and seasons.
If we're to believe these numbers, then that means that TV networks need to start doing more to accommodate the needs of the average viewer. Plenty of shows that would otherwise thrive have died because buzz starts building for a show when it is difficult to access past episodes. NBC seems to have recognized this, and it could lead to a major shift in television in the very near future.
With that in mind, fall is right around the corner so make sure to get caught up on all of the most popular TV series, and check out our comprehensive fall premiere schedule to learn more about when and where these shows will debut.
Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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