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The Magic of the "Half-Watch"

Updated: May 12, 2021

Discovery+, the streaming home of your favorite home/cooking/serial killer/alien shows, is showing a lot of subscriber success since it launched in January. And while it’s not the only platform that has had success, it is the one major streaming service that has a special kind of programming, according to this article:

The app has a quality that’s missing from Netflix and was appreciated about cable: the ability to tune into whatever’s on and only half-watch. And decision fatigue is such a churn threat that Netflix just introduced the “Play Something” button for “when we just don’t want to make decisions.”

Yes, the half-watch. It’s what many of us do, and more than we may want to admit. Our own definition of the half-watch is putting something on that you are barely following while screwing around on your phone. You want the show to be on, and you want it to be a certain kind of show you enjoy, but you also don’t want to have to pay attention to it.

This kind of show is what Discovery+ specializes in, because if you happen to miss some details about the home renovation or the missing hiker, it’s not going to ruin the end for you. Honestly, even missing the end isn’t going to ruin the end for you. That is why this kind of content is so popular.

And though certain shows like The Office fill that same gap, since you’ve seen them a thousand times already, Discovery+ has a nearly bottomless well of this content. But the question is then how do you measure the success of a show that isn’t actually really being watched?

When it comes to how the show is making an impact, it may depend less on what is keeping the audience engaged and more about what is keeping the audience from being pleasantly distracted.

A platform like Resonance AI can still work in this way, by identifying what about the show leads to it being turned off, changed or ignored altogether. By analyzing the elements of each show, and then using Resonance Scores to find which of these elements are turning the half-watch into a no-watch, Discovery+ can figure out how to best create the content that will most pleasantly play in the background while we scroll through Tik Tok.

No one wants to create content that people are ignoring, but the way people watch TV nowadays is not like any other time. If any platform wants to maintain and grow subscribers, the half-watch is a crucial tool in their toolbox.

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