For a number of years, NBC has been all about being a broadcast channel, showing programming on television first before adding it online for viewers to catch up on after. With its latest series, however, it appears that the company is trying something new – and it could happen with other shows as well.
The show Aquarius, featuring X-Files alum David Duchovny, will be making its premiere on the channel tonight, but immediately after, instead of just the initial show being available to view online, the entire season will be posted, so “binge” viewers that can’t wait to see what happens can jump ahead. NBC will deliver the remaining episodes for broadcast over the next few weeks, for those who prefer tradition.
This latest business model by the company is being made in an effort to keep up with the growing popularity of on-demand services like Netflix and Hulu, which has thrived with a number of original offerings like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. But is it a business model that can work in the long-term “Maybe,” according to an opinion piece over at Variety.
“In all likelihood, scheduling a two-hour premiere episode right under distributing the subsequent 11 episodes on NBC.com and other places is going to prompt the segment of the audience that loves the series most to peel off for the binge opportunity and not return to the linear window for the traditional weekly rollout of future episodes,” said co-editor in chief Andrew Wallenstein in his editorial. “Maybe Hannibal would have been a better show to try this strategy with because of the cannibalization NBC is probably going to induce to Aquarius‘ linear viewership.”
NBC has struck deals with a number of advertisers to try out the new format, as, according to the article, “advertisers can get paid for a measurable amount of eyeballs regardless of where they watch, which means the linear ratings loss that VOD could divert may be okay.
“But the devil will be in the details of the deal NBC has struck with those advertisers for the Aquarius arrangement (the network declined to comment on the particulars). The CPMs that NBC is charging them to reach advertisers on both platforms may not be equal, which will pinch the network if linear loses too much to VOD.”
Aquarius, at the very least, is being a test for the format, and new shows (or more popular favorites, such as Grimm) could see a similar format if it’s successful. The question, though, is how to measure that success, as NBC has stated that it doesn’t know if it will be sharing binge data from the show just yet, according to Vulture.
Still, there are benefits to those who take the online route, as explained in an interview with Aquarius creator John McNamara, through Indiewire. He explained that there are “two versions of every episode,” stating that “the version you’ll see on NBC is sexual. The version you’ll see on iTunes is NC-17.” However, he didn’t disclose when these release plans would take shape outside of VOD.
While the fate of Aquarius‘ business plan is questionable, fans shouldn’t hesitate to tune in to the premiere anyway, as the show could easily be on the same level of addiction as Hannibal and Grimm. Learn more about the series on its official page here.