Sounds like Time Warner is planning to take a page from its cord-cutting competitor Netflix. Bloomberg reports that the cable TV provider is in the process of making full seasons of “more shows” available on demand to its pay TV subscribers, citing a statement from Chief Financial Officer Howard Averill. Furthermore, Time Warner-owned networks like TNT and TBS have told Hollywood studios that “stacking rights,” or the option to air entire seasons of shows, are a priority for shows they buy.
“You are starting to see momentum,” said Averill at a press conference in Las Vegas last week. “We have to continue to move along that path to make sure we provide the consumer what they’re looking for.”
The change is aimed to facilitate consumers who “binge watch,” or watch multiple episodes of a TV show in one sitting, as well as to better compete with Netflix. The streaming giant helped popularize the consumption method by releasing new seasons of popular original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black in their entirety.
Some traditional TV networks are already adopting the binge-watching strategy in varying degrees of similarity to the Netflix model. The model that NBC’s Aquarius used — giving viewers the option to binge watch the remaining 12 episodes of the first season the morning after the show’s premiere — is the closest emulation to the streaming service’s model. The entire first season of the Time Warner-owned Warner Bros. studio’s Lucifer (which was sold to 21st Century Fox) will be viewable on-demand to cable subscribers, but it’s unclear when the episodes will be available. The show debuts on January 25.
Currently, many networks give cable subscribers the ability to watch shows on demand through the service TV Everywhere. This solution isn’t nearly as substantial as the Netflix or Hulu model, though, as it usually doesn’t give consumers the option to watch entire seasons of shows.
“[To compete with Netflix, media companies need to] “make as much content available to consumers as possible,” said Bloomberg analyst Paul Sweeney. “Stacking rights are more important now than they’ve ever been.”