NBC research guru: 'That's a big deal'
Credit: Barbara Nitke/NBC

If you haven’t checked out an episode of NBC’s The Blacklist yet — or The CW’s The Flash, or ABC’s Quantico — there’s one particular reason why that NBC has figured out.

The network’s research guru Alan Wurtzel presented a dizzying array of new research data to reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday. And it seems he’s quantifiably figured out something that you probably could have told him years ago (and no, it’s not something derogatory about broadcast network programming). Hold onto your butts: It seems that people don’t want to check out new episodes of ongoing TV shows they haven’t seen before unless the show’s previous episodes are also easily available to watch first … we know, your jaw is on the floor and your world just turned upside down.

“Over half the sample says, ‘If I can’t see stuff before I go to the new episodes, I’m not gonna watch it,'” Wurtzel told reporters. “That’s a big deal. I think that everybody in the business has to take heed of that 54 percent because it’s a huge issue.”

Take heed indeed. The research says 75 percent of viewers surveyed say they’d watch more primetime broadcast TV if networks made it easier to catch up to the current season by making all past episodes available online or on demand. And 72 percent of the survey said they were likely to start watching a returning TV series in the fall on broadcast if they have access to all past episodes. Well, those are sort of the same points, but that’s what these PowerPoint presentations are like. Just be thankful we’re not detailing all of NBC’s research about slowing DVR penetration rates as well.

“This is what people want,” Wurtzel says of the new data showing people want to watch stories in a coherent narrative order. “And we have to figure out a way to get it to them.”

Well, yes.