Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix Doesn’t Have the Market Cornered on Binge TV: Zombies + Walter White Help AMC Win the Fall VOD War

Everyone* gets the concept of binge-viewing. And most people now associate binge-viewing with Netflix, in part because Netflix wants us to associate binge-viewing with Netflix.

But if you want to gorge on episode after episode of your favorite show, you don’t necessarily have to pony up for Netflix, or for an iTunes season pass: Lots of you can watch lots of your favorite shows on your pay-TV provider’s on-demand system, for free.

And many of you do. Time spent watching video on demand is increasing, even as traditional TV-watching flattens out and/or declines.

Newest data point: In September and October, AMC Networks generated more video-on-demand orders than any other network, according to pay-TV tracker Rentrak. Which makes sense, because in September, AMC wrapped up its final season of “Breaking Bad,” and in October, AMC kicked off a new season of “The Walking Dead.”

The breakdown: AMC generated 15 million VOD orders in September — about five percent of all VOD orders that month — and 10 million in October.

VOD critics/boosters, like Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, argue that those numbers could be much bigger if pay-TV providers did a better job of promoting the stuff they have, and making their TV guides and interfaces less awful. And that’s very believable.

But here’s another way of looking at it: The pay-TV guys do a miserable job with their TV guides and interfaces, and their customers still figure out how to use it. Which means that if Apple, or Google, or Verizon/Intel, or whomever, wants to break into TV, they’ll need to do more than offer a better guide/interface. Because lots of people are willing to put up with crappy ones.

* At least everyone reading a site like this one.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”