Netflix reportedly is looking to abandon its binge model for weekly releases. According to an industry analyst, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings may be looking to pivot from his refusal to abandon the binge model entirely. Puck news reported that Hastings was “unwilling to pivot from the binge model” at first but now may be having a change of heart. Viewers have already seen the streaming giant slowly backing away from releasing all of its original content at once. Netflix split the latest season of Stranger Things into two parts instead of releasing the entire season all at one go. There is also competition from other major streaming services such as Disney+, HBO Max, and more, which may put more pressure on Netflix to change its release strategy. It should be noted that Netflix has yet to confirm the news.
Other streaming services are trying to extend the conversation by utilizing the weekly release strategy. A recent example is the Disney+ Marvel series She-Hulk, which has many people talking on social media. While the show is known for mimicking the style and tone of an Ally McBeal, it also has the same release pattern as other comedy shows on cable. Other shows such as House of the Dragon, The Rings of Power, and more are able to extend people’s interest in it by utilizing the same strategy. Netflix made binge-watching a popular thing in the industry with their award-winning dramas such as The Crown and comic-book fare such as Daredevil. Although viewers became accustomed to binge-watching before the pandemic, studios and executives realized that social media chatter helped strengthen a show’s longevity. It no longer was ideal to have a full season drop on a single weekend. Suddenly it became smarter to drop an episode or two to whet people’s appetite and have them guess what the next episode would entail.
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This doesn’t mean the binge model popularized by Netflix was a total failure and that the weekly release model is perfect. There are some online who criticized the Disney+ Marvel shows for being too short at times. The key to utilizing the weekly release model is ensuring there is enough content to satisfy fans who’ve waited days for the next episode. A common critique of the MCU shows is that they feel like movies broken into six or more separate chunks. One episode of a show like She-Hulk doesn’t tell a complete story, but instead, it shows 30 or so odd minutes of a feature film. Netflix can avoid this mistake by ensuring each episode tells a whole story that won’t leave viewers cold. Stranger Things season 4 could’ve gotten away with this since each episode ran for over an hour and featured multiple storylines for fans to follow.
Ultimately the ball is in Netflix’s court on whether they want to join in on the weekly model trend. They have already set a precedent with their docuseries and reality and talk shows. It’s just a matter of whether the streaming giant wants to adopt the weekly release strategy entirely or if they will first experiment with some of their biggest hitters.