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Ad-Free Netflix Helps Publicize Ad-Filled TV

Last year, my wife and I sat through what feels like the thousandth conversation where friends and families raved about the BBC show, “Last Tango in Halifax.” It  captivated just about everyone we knew. Intrigued, and frankly tired of sitting out the conversation, we signed onto Netflix to see what the fuss was all about. We were hooked! Within a couple of weeks, we were caught up on the first two seasons and eagerly anticipating the start of the third.

Put another way: the BBC expanded its live audience for the show by two.

Binge watching is America’s new pastime. Some 75% of TV viewers admit to it, which comes as no surprise, given that services like Netflix and Amazon Prime offer entire seasons at once. These media companies have changed the way we view TV. But does it also follow that these subscription-based streaming services have eliminated television advertising as we know it? And if it’s dead, how will advertisers reach the crucial millennial generation?

I don’t think so. To broadcasters, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) are syndication models in the traditional sense of the word. No one goes there to watch last night’s episode; they go to watch last year’s.

For the original creators, these are classic syndication exercises; content is sent to them after the originating network exhausts all of its first-airing and first-look opportunities.

The fact is, Netflix is actually building audiences for appointment TV, not eliminating TV advertising.

Let me give you another example. About a decade ago, I missed...

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