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Streaming back-seasons has been found to have a positive impact on current broadcast TV shows, says research from Symphony Advanced Media.

Symphony AM 27 AprilDrawing a key conclusion about its research, the analyst that passively measures integrated cross-media consumption said that even though streaming platforms might concern broadcast TV companies, its data shows that a gain of up to 11% of new viewers of the current season are earned in the early weeks a programme is on air, due to back-viewing.

The data found that an average of 38% of viewers who watched a back season across any platform during the weeks leading up to a season premiere also watched the current season.

Symphony Advanced Media added that a majority of back-season binging can be attributed to viewers who began watching a new show but preferred to do so from the first season. This was followed by viewers who wanted a refresh on previous seasons, prior to starting the current one.

Drama programmes were found to be the most likely to have back-season viewing and, perhaps not surprisingly, Netflix was the primary source of most of this back-season viewing, accounting for 38% of viewers who watched back seasons during September 2015. Broadcast followed by accounting for 24% and VOD represented 17% of time spent. In addition, 43% of back-season viewing occurred during prime time hours throughout the week, with family and friend recommendations being the main driver for viewers seeking new content.

Drama programme were also most likely to attract current season viewers through a back season, while sitcoms showed the least overlap of season viewing.

Within the drama genre, SymphonyAM noted a distinction between shows with a strong story arc that played throughout an entire season versus a series with self-contained storylines. Shows such as How To Get Away With Murder (ABC), Empire (FOX), and Scandal (ABC) proved to have the most viewers watching back seasons followed by the current. Each of these programmes had at least half of the current season viewers watch some of the previous season in the weeks leading up to the current season premiere. However, crime dramas such as Criminal Minds and NCIS, did not hold as strong a viewership from back-season viewing to the current.

“We're seeing changes in viewing behaviours and habits over recent years that is altering the way the entire television industry earns, maintains and loses viewers,” said Charles Buchwalter, CEO of SymphonyAM. “But regardless of the massive success of streaming platforms and its content, broadcast and cable TV programmes are still garnering strong audience numbers, a portion of which is actually coming from the success of these new viewing methods.”