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Big Question For NBC's 'Manson' Plan Is It Good Enough To Binge-Watch?

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Big Question For NBC's 'Manson' Plan Is It Good Enough To Binge-Watch?

Post by jade1013 on Tue 5 May - 12:28

Big Question For NBC's 'Manson' Plan: Is It Good Enough To Binge-Watch?

by Adam Buckman, over 1 hour ago



NBC’s plan to make its upcoming Charles Manson miniseries available for streaming in its entirety right after the two-hour premiere is drawing a variety of opinions.

The plan is disadvantageous to NBC’s affiliates, says one commentator, because 11 additional hours of this 13-hour “event” series will be available for viewing on multiple streaming platforms long before they air on the network's owned and affiliated stations.

That undermines the assumed “exclusivity” (or, to put it another way, the right to air NBC network programming first) that network affiliates have long enjoyed, goes this line of thinking.

On the opposite side of the issue is the idea that NBC's plan, with which the network hopes to encourage binge-watching of its Manson miniseries, is no big deal. That's the view adopted by our own Wayne Friedman in a recent TV Watch column. “Is this bad for the business? No,” writes Wayne, “it’s just an option -- not a sign of altering business economics.”

Both sides make valid points, and far be it from me to argue with them, especially since I have a third way of looking at it, in the form of a question: Is this miniseries, titled “Aquarius,” worth binge-watching in the first place?

Under the plan announced last week, NBC will premiere the first two hours of “Aquarius” on Thursday, May 28. Then, all 13 hours of the series will be available for streaming on NBC.com and the NBC app, and also “offered to all other video-on-demand platforms for release at that time as well,” NBC said.

NBC's announcement said the purpose of the plan is to spur binge-watching of “Aquarius.” Among the other relevant details: All subsequent one-hour episodes of “Aquarius” will air over 11 Thursdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on NBC, even while all 13 hours will be available for streaming for a period of four weeks.

In addition, the VOD episodes will carry commercials -- the same commercial load as the linear-broadcast episodes, NBC said. “One of the key points of the arrangement is that the show will be available to only a handful of certain advertising partners so the linear broadcast on NBC will mirror the commercial load on the VOD platforms,” the network said in its press release. “This will result in limited interruption,” NBC said, “both on-air and off -- giving viewers and advertising partners an enhanced and innovative experience.” That remains to be seen, of course.

Here's the real challenge, however: Can a network actually get people to binge-watch a series by making it known in advance that the series will be available to watch this way? Or does binge-watching happen organically, which is to say, “on its own,” without a TV network blatantly steering viewers toward having this experience?

“Binge-watching” is, of course, a relatively new term (or at least a recent one) that was coined to describe the way people have come to enjoy certain TV shows. It is assumed, in these cases, that the shows are very special -- “the elite,” so to speak. When you think of binge-watching, you think of younger people watching the entire run of “The Sopranos” or “Entourage,” for example, because maybe they were too young to enjoy them when they originally aired.

Or you think of landmark series such as “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones,” “Downton Abbey” and maybe a dozen others that are so attractive to watch that people cannot stop watching them once they’ve started -- resulting in a viewing binge.

NBC's “Aquarius” is a miniseries about Charles Manson, who is played by Gethin Anthony (that’s him in the photo above, next to an inset of the real Charlie). David Duchovny is the series’ star. He plays an L.A. police detective in search of a missing teenage girl in 1967. His investigation puts him on a collision course with Manson.

I watched the first two episodes of “Aquarius,” thanks to NBC, which sent the whole thing to TV columnists (presumably for us to binge-watch). Duchovny’s performance, as an old-school L.A. cop (complete with brush-cut) who’d rather beat a confession out of a suspect than read him his (relatively new) Miranda rights, is the best feature of the series. Duchovny is a charismatic actor whose presence enlivens every scene he’s in.

The rest of the series (the two parts I watched, in any case) wasn’t bad either. But it hardly rises to the level of any of the aforementioned series that one associates with binge-watching. Besides, the phenomenon of binge-watching usually seems to occur in the aftermath of a show’s premiere (sometimes long after) as a show becomes discussed and buzzed about on social media and elsewhere.

Whether enough people will be buzzing about “Aquarius” on the day after the premiere to turn it into a binge-watchable phenomenon remains to be seen, although it doesn’t seem very likely.


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Re: Big Question For NBC's 'Manson' Plan Is It Good Enough To Binge-Watch?

Post by sir on Tue 5 May - 12:30

Thanks.

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Re: Big Question For NBC's 'Manson' Plan Is It Good Enough To Binge-Watch?

Post by Duchovny on Wed 6 May - 0:38

thanks Jade
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