- This year was all about on-demand programming
- Netflix scored big with original programming
- Twitter released its first "TV ratings"
This year in TV was all about having what you wanted when you wanted it.
Some TV viewers binged on hours upon hours of shows, while others were simply more selective with what they viewed. Whether it was content saved on a DVR or streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, viewers spent plenty of time growing fat on the lamb that was this year in TV. With so much technology, viewers almost didn't need to actually sit in front of a TV in order to enjoy TV in 2013.
"Television is becoming ever less about the box in the corner of the room, and ever more about the content it gives you access to," according to 33 Digital & Hotwire's Digital Trends Report 2013.
Such indulgence meant 2013 was also the year that Netflix became a source for major networks to contend with.
Don't believe that? Check the awards shows.
Netflix has garnered six Golden Globe nominations, placing them ahead of broadcast television networks CBS, NBC (which each had five nominations) and ABC (which had four). Netflix's "House of Cards" starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright snagged the most with four nominations, while their other hit series "Orange is the New Black" and the revived "Arrested Development" each received one nomination. Netflix also made history in September by winning three Emmys.
Not bad for a company that only a few years ago was competing with the now defunct Blockbuster in getting DVDs into the hands of customers.
While streaming and DVRing shows is not new, the take off of the original content really came into its own in 2013. Charlotte Koh, head of content development for Hulu Originals, said she sees it as a natural progression as consumers become more comfortable "living online."
"What's been great for all the online, on-demand distributors of content is that people really start to think about a place where we have first-window content that hasn't been anywhere else," Koh said. "I think it's a great virtuous circle that makes people more curious about 'Hey, I can discover things that I like here in this world that isn't necessarily available for me through traditional networks.'"
Hulu's most successful first-run series, "Misfits," returned this fall for its fifth and final season, and the company announced its first co-production with Lionsgate, "Deadbeat," a supernatural comedy starring Cat Deeley and Tyler Labine, as well as second seasons of the animated series "The Awesomes" from "Saturday Night Live" star Seth Myers and the western procedural comedy "Quick Draw."
Koh, whose company partners with network TV to stream their series, said on-demand companies like hers help "raise consumer awareness about shows that may need a little more time to gain a big audience."
"Then that audience goes and finds that show on the network because they want to watch it live when an episode comes on," she said. "Or they use us occasionally when they want to play catch up."
Amazon is also throwing its hat into the original content ring. In May the company announced that it would be creating five shows based on response from 14 pilots it posted online. "Annebots," "Alpha House," "Betas," "Creative Galaxy" and "Tumbleleaf" have all gotten the green light. With so much available content, viewers now no longer have to patiently wait for a new TV series to gain traction. They can instead catch up on a show that is already popular or indulge in original programming from aggregators.
CNN Money recently reported that the concept of "binge watching" may be changing. A Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Netflix found that those responding considered binge watching to be "watching a handful of episodes (between 2-6 episodes) of the same TV show in one sitting." Respondents also said they found binge watching an enjoyable activity.
That is not at all to suggest that broadcast and cable are dead. To the contrary, 2013 found fans losing it over the series finale of AMC's "Breaking Bad," enraptured by "Game of Thrones'" "Red Wedding" episode and fully embracing new shows like NBC's "The Blacklist" and Fox's "Sleepy Hollow."
Staff writers at The Atlantic recently selected their favorite episodes of 2013 and they were as varied as episode seven of "Arrested Development" on Netflix to the "You've Got Sext" episode of Fox's "The Mindy Project." On the cable side, original programming including A&E's reality show "Duck Dynasty" and the History Channel's miniseries "The Bible" scored big ratings.
In October, the Nielsens released its first ever "Twitter ratings," which measures the amount of tweets about a show and the size of the audience that views them. For the week of September 23, "Breaking Bad" ranked No. 1 with 9.3 million unique users seeing tweets specific to that show.
The increased focus on social and TV also grew in 2013, with Twitter announcing in November that it had updated its apps to allow for better organization of trending TV shows. That means it's now easier for "Scandal" fans to find each other and for viewers to "hate tweet" the live production of NBC's "The Sound of Music," which they did in droves.
Audiences definitely know what they want and Hulu's Koh said she see the challenge in both attracting and keeping viewers who are now completely used to having the power of on-demand.
"One of the things we work very hard at is being the perfect matchmaker between audience and show," she said. "We work on what's the right strategy to reach those in the market place and break through all of the noise.
What TV did you enjoy in 2013?