Binging vs. Repeating: Netflix and Children’s Media

Quick pointer to a series of articles discussing Netflix’s decision to conduct a rolling release of their animated children’s series, Turbo: F.A.S.T. Unlike Netflix’s adult dramas, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, in which all episodes of a given season were released simultaneously, Turbo F.A.S.T. episodes will be posted five at a time, in “pods” over the course of several weeks or months. Some of this is connected to the logistics of production–animated episodes take longer to produce–but another factor, according to Netflix, is that children have different viewing habits than adults.

Rather than watching episodes serially in a “binge” pattern, children are more likely to be content rewatching old episodes several times (as many parents know from their stock of well-worn children’s DVDs). In fact, according to a New York Times article on Netflix, children are very much “on-demand” viewers who rarely watch programming according to a broadcast schedule (a point Jason Mittell addressed several years ago in his discussion of his kids’ use of TiVo). The Times article offers several explanations for the bahevior of repeat viewing, arguing that it can be a form of learning, but it’s notable that several VOD services are reporting similar behavior. Amazon has stated that 65% of their most-repeated shows are targeted towards children, suggesting that TV’s role as an “electronic babysitter” has further evolved into an on-demand one, where children can discover or revisit favorite shows at their leisure.

2 Comments »

  1. Mike Everleth Said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    When I worked in video stores back in the ’90s, the common complaint of parents was that their kids usually only ever wanted to rent the same movies over and over again. I think the belief back then, too, was that it was a form of learning — or, at least I remember talking to parents about it in that context back then.

  2. Chuck Said,

    December 6, 2013 @ 10:00 am

    Yeah, I think parents have witnessed their children engaging in repeat viewing for a long time in different media. That’s why Netflix’s research here isn’t terribly surprising.

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