It looks like the weekly release of new episodes is the winning model for streaming services if some analysts are to be believed. While no one seems to be predicting heavy hitters in the streaming landscape like Netflix to immediately and completely abandon their model of releasing all episodes of a series at once, streamers like Amazon and Disney+ showed that weekly released prove beneficial for the growth and longevity of a show.
“While 2020 was the year of binge-watching – thanks largely to pandemic shutdowns – 2021 reminded viewers that sometimes the best TV-watching experiences come on a once-a-week basis, allowing more time to absorb plot developments and speculate about what will happen next,” Mike Murphy said (via Market Watch). The analyst cites WandaVision, Ted Lasso and Succession of examples of weekly releases which provided discourse where its audience interacted and built interest.
“Weekly releases – the norm for TV networks for decades – are especially beneficial for smaller (that’s non-Netflix) streaming services looking to generate consistent viewership month after month, creating buzz and remaining in the pop-culture conversation for sustained periods of time,” Murphy notes. “According to a recent report by The Ringer, which cited Parrot Analytics data, 62% of the top 50 new streaming shows of 2021 used a weekly release strategy of some sort, up from about 30% the previous two years. That includes strategies used by Apple TV+, Prime Video and HBO Max, most notably, of dropping the first two or three episodes at once, then releasing one or two episodes a week.”
The weekly release style and the binge model are often debated by viewers. Some viewers prefer to have all of the episodes at once as a means to consume all hours of a program at their leisure, with that often meaning in one sitting or over a short amount of time. This leaves other viewers feeling left out in the discourse when they’re unable to finish all hours of the series and have to avoid discussing the show until they have finished watching each new episode. The weekly model leaves some viewers feeling anxious to know what is next for the characters they are watching. Others feel better about having less of an obligation to completing more hours of the show and being able to participate in speculation and share reactions online as all viewers know which new episode is being discussed each week.
“It’s not just the services that benefit – with weekly drops, viewers aren’t overwhelmed with so many episodes at once and can have a more relaxing and memorable viewing experience, rather than mainlining a series in a weekend and quickly forgetting about it entirely,” Murphy said. “Don’t expect the binge to go away completely though. Netflix has shown it still works pretty well for its new releases, and most of its rival services will continue to use some kind of hybrid release strategy, depending on the individual series.”
Which streaming model do you prefer; the weekly episode release model or the all-at-once binge model? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram!