Recently, streaming services have been toying with doing TV shows the way they used to: a new episode every week. Because while the binge effect took a hold of just about all viewers as streaming became the main way to watch TV and movies, top services like Netflix are thinking cable may have had it right. So, they’ve been testing ways out of the binge model they’ve created. By slow launching series’, viewers are beholden to the service longer, talk about it more, and it gives the show time to draw in new, longer lasting subscribers. The question is, are Gen Z and Millennials on board?
Being the focus audience for so many media brands, whether or not Gen Z and Millennials will wait for weekly episodes is a huge consideration to make for this model of streaming. But, as we always do, YPulse has asked young consumers about their preferences for consuming media like TV and movies in our Media Consumption report. When we ask which kinds of drops and shows they’re more interested in watching, they’re nearly split on returning to slow launches, but definitely want new content:
When YPulse asks Gen Z and Millennials what kinds of content they’ve watched in the last week, 65% say TV series’, making it their second top answer behind movies. It’s even more popular than social media videos, which says a lot considering how addictive young people consider video-based platforms like TikTok. This means that they’re dedicating a lot of time to TV, and that could be hard to do if the show they love is only coming out once a week, which may be why…
Because they’re watching TV so often, when it comes to binging or waiting all week for a new show, 53% of Gen Z and Millennials say they’d rather get it all at once. After all, this is the model streaming services have gotten them used to, so it’s no wonder more than half would rather not go back to waiting for a specific airtime for new episodes. And aside from ditching commercials (which are also back), this was one of the major selling points for streaming when it first hit the market.
However, weekly shows are clearly finding success with young audiences right now anyway. And YPulse data from 2018 showed 63% of young consumers preferred a binge watch, proving that lately, the weekly tune-in has become significantly more popular. Perhaps it’s because new favorites are adopting this model: when YPulse asks Gen Z and Millennials what their favorite currently airing TV show is, their top answer was The Last of Us, which launched in weekly installments on HBO. Gen Z on their own, though, named Netflix’s Outer Banks as their number one, which was an all at once drop that garnered 154M viewing hours in its first four days.
But honestly, there are benefits to both a binge-watch and a weekly tune-in for young viewers and streamers alike. If a show released all at once goes viral, it can rack up millions, or even billions, of viewing hours in a matter of days or weeks. But the buzz may not last as long without new episodes to make their own social media content about, and waiting for the next season could put their fandom into temporary retirement. Weekly shows, on the other hand, offer the opportunity to spark conversation and trends week after week, like we saw with Euphoria and House of the Dragon. Netflix has taken to some partial releases to give viewers a bit of both, prolonging the hype like they did with Stranger Things Volume 4 and You.
Despite the fact that young people would prefer to binge a show all at once, the majority would still rather watch a new show than an old one they’ve seen before. And given how often they’re watching TV series’, this means they’re constantly on the hunt for new content. This is important for media brands to know, because while streaming services did thrive off comfort rewatches like The Office and Friends, young consumers are going to be the first to try (and judge) new shows. Of course, every streamer out there has been making original content for years, but knowing that these new shows remain of more interest than old ones highlights how to best market to Gen Z and Millennial viewers. So, when deciding whether to give viewers a new season all at once or through a slow release, know that if it’s up to their standard, they’ll likely take either in the pursuit of new content.