Emma Lane, Senior Research Executive at MEC, explains how, using Media Z MEC examined the audience perceptions of the VoD hits, the US crime dramas Breaking Bad and The Wire.

The popularity of online video-on-demand services have rocketed in the UK with one in three people now watching TV on-demand at least once a week (nVision). This easy access to TV series through services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant and Sky Go has made way for a rise in 'binge-watching', where consumers watch several TV episodes of the same series back-to-back. In fact, 54% of consumers say they have 'binge-watched' a TV series (nVision). While this activity is not altogether new (it has been done with DVD box-sets for years), the rise of VoD has made it more prolific, with consumers able to get their fix of their favourite TV shows whenever and wherever they want.

Breaking Bad and The Wire are critically acclaimed US crime dramas that have huge levels of buzz surrounding them. Both are notorious for their addictiveness and are a favourite among 'binge-watchers' with both available to watch on-demand.

Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a chemistry teacher turned crystal meth manufacturer. The first two seasons were broadcast in the UK on Channel 5, however the series was subsequently dropped. The show was then picked up by Netflix, meaning that the only way UK consumers could watch it was by signing up to its service. Huge levels of buzz surround Breaking Bad with 2.7 million tweets globally about the show in the past year alone (Sysymos). The fifth and final season of the show aired in 2013.

The Wire, a crime drama set in and around Baltimore, premiered in the UK in 2005 on FX and later on BBC1. The show only initially received average ratings and reviews but has now achieved cult status. Even though it ended in 2009, there is still talk around the programme, with over 100,000 tweets worldwide about watching the show in the past year (Sysymos). It's also the third mostwatched series on Sky Demand behind Grey's Anatomy and The Walking Dead (Sky).

Using MediaZ, the brand health study from MEC, we can understand how consumers feel towards these two TV programmes ('like', 'love', 'ok', or 'not relevant'). We can also analyse their personality profiles as those who like or love the property are asked to select at least four characteristics that best describe it, as well as their advocacy and talkability.

Both programmes score highly on recommendation – 47% of those who said they love or like Breaking Bad said they regularly recommend it. This is lower for The Wire at 26%, but still above the average for all properties (17%).

The programmes have some similar personality perceptions. They are seen as High Quality (Breaking Bad 50% vs. The Wire 53%), Adventurous (Breaking Bad 53% vs. The Wire 51%), Intelligent (Both 50%) and Dynamic (39% Breaking Bad vs. 37% The Wire).

Comparing Breaking Bad and The Wire
Source: MediaZ, MEC

There are some differences in perceptions; Breaking Bad is seen as more Rebellious than The Wire (67% vs. 37%), as well as Different (62% vs. 49%). Even though the two shows belong to the same genre. the controversial subject matter of Breaking Bad may have impacted on this. As the most recent of the two programmes, Breaking Bad is seen as more Cool (40% vs. 29%), Modern (52% vs. 30%) and Successful (53% vs. 36%).

The Wire is recognised for its realistic portrayal of urban life and its exploration of social and political themes. In line with this, the show is seen as more Assertive (51% vs. 24%), In Control (34% vs. 18%), Brave (40% vs. 34%) and Rugged (29% vs. 14%).

From Media Z, we can see that while the two shows share some key personality traits, they also differ in perceptions due to their differing content. Both are available on-demand and whilst Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant currently don't support advertising, other platforms do (e.g. Sky Go). Understanding how consumers view programmes is, therefore, important for any advertisers or sponsors wanting to take advantage of the 'bingewatching' culture and buzz around these types of series, to make sure they achieve good brand fit.