Nearly half of viewers say they wait until they’ve heard good things about a show before they will start watching it, said Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s President of Research and Media Development, today at TCA.

“It’s one of these things where, like, ‘Don’t waste my time on stuff that I’m really not going to like,’ and that puts a pretty big burden on us to essentially get people to kind of sample a program,” Wurtzel explained.

Presenting a brain-blistering amount of data on viewing trends based on NBC’s research, Wurtzel also revealed that, in a sort of Catch-22, more than half of people said that even if they hear good things about a show, “‘If I can’t see [previous] stuff before I go to the new episodes, I’m not gonna watch it’.”

“That’s a big deal….Everybody in the business has to take heed of that 54%, because it’s a huge issue,” he said.

And of particular interest to network execs before the start of the new TV season, 72% said they were more likely to start watching a returning series this fall on broadcast networks if they had access to all the past episodes on demand or online, to catch up.

“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.”