“Let them binge” says Kevin Spacey

2013-08-24_0124Actor Kevin Spacey says television viewers want freedom and the industry should give audiences “what they want, when they want it”.

Delivering the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival, he spoke in defence of the model adopted by Netflix which saw House of Cards made available to subscribers as an entire series from its launch.

“Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it,” he said.

“Well, some will still steal it, but I believe this new model can take a bite out of piracy.

“For years, particularly with the advent of the Internet, people have been griping about lessening attention spans.

“But if someone can watch an entire season of a TV series in one day, doesn’t that show an incredible attention span?

“When the story is good enough,” he said, “people can watch something three times the length of an opera.”

His comments follow Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes saying that Game of Thrones as the most pirated show in the world was “better than an Emmy.”

Spacey added: “The audience has spoken: They want stories. They’re dying for them.

“And they will talk about it, binge on it, carry it with them on the bus and to the hairdresser, force it on their friends, tweet, blog, Facebook… and God knows what else.

“All we have to do is give it to them.”

But there are already suggestions that the financial model of binge-broadcasts at Netflix might end up accelerating expenditures. Variety reports that the streaming service announced its second quarter earnings last month was a potentially significant shift in accounting practices.

“We are in the early stages of original content, and continue to monitor whether the viewing pattern is higher than initially expected in the first few months to suggest that we amortize at a faster initial rate,” Netflix indicated.

A Netflix spokesman said the company would have no further comment regarding the disclosure. But Variety offers a translation: Netflix may need to accelerate spending initially deferred a few years down the road for originals like House of Cards. You can read more here.

House of Cards was recently nominated for nine Emmy Awards, including one for Spacey for outstanding lead actor in a drama series.

Source: BBC

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  1. Armchair Analyst

    He is 1000% right. He is vindicating what all the people here have been saying. If the media companies provide the content at a reasonable price at a reasonable time then people will pay for it. In this digital age “Content is king” and will always be. Hopefully when this is comming from a tv and movie veteran that now studios and other media companies will listen.

  2. The problem with Fasttracking is that it doesn’t work.The number of people who will watch a show live on FTA with ads and popups, (and not timeshifting it or watch on catch-up), rather illegally downloading it is very small. Timeshifting and skipping ads is a 10 times bigger problem for networks.

    Foxtel fasttracks their stuff on Monday afternoon and tens of thousands watch it then. Most viewers watch primetime repeats or record it on their IQs or watch it off Go at a time when it is convenient for them, not when it was shown in the US.

    The future is viewing on demand, not fast tracking.

  3. Problem for Free To Air and fast-tracking is that it has to happen at a certain time of night due to classification rules, M can be shown between Midday and 3pm on School Days then between 8:30 pm and 5:00 am and MA cannot be shown any other time than between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am.

    For instance 10pm US time on a Monday is Midday Aust time on a Tuesday at the moment, so to show an MA 15+ show on Free To Air like say Dexter they could only do so at 9pm, which is a 9 hour delay. Even with M Rated it is a very narrow window, even with 8pm being 10 am here, they would have to have it here and ready to go between Midday and 3pm (as long as it is not school holidays).

    Until the classification regulations change, say allowing for people being able to block M and MA rated material from watching (like Foxtel can do), then they won’t go any more than an 7 /9 hour delay window (like with Under…

  4. @Mapia
    It is the US summer season so there isn’t as much on.

    But there is still some good stuff. I am really enjoying The Killing S3, Longmire, The Town and have just started watching Vikings. Arrow has picked up a bit now the story is moving again.

    And there is plenty of watchable stuff like Ripper Street, White Collar, Nikita, Friday Night Lights, Castle and Broadchurch (though its overrated).

    I don’t watch news or contest shows or infotainment (except for Gruen Nation), but still find plenty to watch on FTA.

  5. Binge TV works for DVDs and ITV.

    Foxtel put all of House of Cards up at once for download but their main business was showing two episodes a week to keep their regular subscribers happy.

    Personally I don’t like to watch more than two eps of a show in a sitting even on DVD. The all just blur into one, become the same and you forget what happened. Perhaps I am just getting old.

  6. Is it just me! Or is there nothing to watch anymore of interest. The Fosters is great on Foxtel, House of Cards is great on Foxtel. What on heavens name is happening to FTA. All this extended news, reality shows is just making feel like ‘how can I fill this time slot as cheaply as possible!

  7. I agree this works on Pay TV or services like iTunes and iView but would not work on FTA unless they already have the entire season. But the catch is then if it has been shown outside of AU then those who want to binge will have more likely already seen the show.

    Yes the TV model has to change with the times and what we want as viewers. There needs to be more fast tracking of shows here within hours of the international release.

  8. The binge concept is workable for cable pay TV, but is unworkable for free to air TV, as it takes 8 months to make a 22 episode season of a 41 minute weekly US show and most people aren’t prepared to wait that long.

    Plus free to air networks rely on episodes being shown weekly, to sell advertising, as that’s how free to air commercial TV operates, by selling ads, not because they’re into advancing the art of good scripted TV.

  9. @frankly that is not quite correct. I lived in Jakarta Indonesia for many years & i could always find full series of Aussie shows that had been pirated .

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