The NPD Group: FOX’s “Prison Break” Leads List of Most-Binged TV Series on Subscription Video-on-Demand (SVOD) Services

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SVOD is catering to the needs of “marathon” TV-series bingers and “catch-up” bingers, according to NPD’s VideoWatch Digital tracking service.

The beauty of bingeing is that the viewer can tailor their TV viewing activity to their unique personal situations.

According to The NPD Group, a global information company, binge-TV-series viewing is a phenomenon that has recently been amplified by subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services. NPD has classified binge viewers into two main camps: “marathon bingers” and “catch-up bingers.” Marathon bingeing is seen most frequently with series that have already ended; viewers want to consume multiple episodes of a show, in order to follow the story arc of the series as quickly as possible. Catch-up bingers are simply catching up on past episodes of TV series they are currently watching.

According to information from NPD’s “VideoWatch Digital” consumer tracker, certain types of TV shows and viewers instill greater bingeing behavior. The top-three most binged TV series available from SVOD services in 2012 were “Prison Break” (FOX), “Charmed” (WB), and “That 70s Show” (FOX).

Top 10 Most Binged Shows Available on SVOD
(Source: The NPD Group, VideoWatch Digital, Jan 2012 through Jan 2013)

1. Prison Break
2. Charmed
3. That '70s Show
4. How I Met Your Mother
5. Gossip Girl
6. Supernatural
7. Scrubs
8. Heroes
9. 24
10. One Tree Hill

Among marathon bingers, complex shows with high continuity from episode to episode are viewed most often. These series include “Prison Break,” “Heroes,” “Lost,” and “24.” In addition, easily consumed sitcoms that have generated a strong following over time are conducive for marathon viewing. They include “That 70s Show,” “Arrested Development,” “Scrubs,” and “Frasier.”

Catch-up bingers focus on TV series that are currently airing. Viewers are viewing previous seasons, in order to catch up to the current season and view the latest episodes in real time. “Psych,” “Breaking Bad,” “Walking Dead” and other series that generate high levels of buzz on social networks fit this pattern. TV series with large cult followings, like “Supernatural,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Vampire Diaries,” and “Sons of Anarchy,” also typically see high levels of catching-up. Catching up prior to the start of a new season is also a factor in increased bingeing for some current TV series. For example, “Psych” viewers showed increased bingeing in the month leading up to the second half of the sixth season in February 2012.

“The beauty of bingeing is that the viewer can tailor their TV viewing activity to their unique personal situations,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “Viewers can catch up before a new season begins, or test drive a show that friends are talking about, or simply watch a few episodes of a sitcom on a rainy afternoon.”

A large contributor to SVOD bingeing is program availability on SVOD leader Netflix; many popular series, including “Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS,” and “Two and a Half Men,” are not available on Netflix and are not popular binge-viewing titles. According to Crupnick, “with increased original SVOD programming, we’ll likely see more bingeing behavior; in fact, ‘House of Cards’ viewers watched an average of six episodes in a single week.” On the other hand, “Charmed” and other lower-rated linear TV shows are popular among TV bingers, partly because of their availability across multiple subscription streaming sites, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime.

Data note: Information in this press release was derived from NPD’s “VideoWatch Digital,” consumer tracker based on data from 313,866 SVOD TV transactions across 26,176 SVOD subscribers that were completed between January 2012 and January 2013. Transactions for each SVOD title were divided by the number of subscribers who reported watching each week and then aggregated for the full time period; binge viewing is reported as the number of episodes watched by a respondent for the week they completed the survey. Data was weighted to represent U.S. population of Internet users (age 13 and older).

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food / foodservice, home, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. For more information, visit and Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup.

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