When Netflix Beyoncé started its TV show & # 39; s (release entire seasons at once, often with little or no warning), the streaming service reinvented how people consume TV. As Chief Content Officer of Netflix Ted Sarandos explained it in 2016, TV viewers were already fond of an & # 39; appointment TV & # 39; model and were going to store DVR episodes for binge viewing, so the service tried to track the way customers wanted to consume their content.
In the following years, streaming subscribers got used to binging shows. But superpowers such as Disney, Apple and Hulu want to change the game again by following the opposite strategy with their streaming services. If Netflix changed patience into a forgotten virtue, its competitors try to bring it back.
At the biennial D23 Expo from Disney managers revealed that episodes of the upcoming Disney + streaming service follow a weekly release schedule. A show like the spin-off from Marvel Cinematic Universe Loki, which is scheduled to last around six hours (probably a total of six episodes) will appear in the course of six weeks. That is comparable to the way Hulu (which is also owned by Disney), Amazon and HBO Now work.
But although HBO Now has no exclusive streaming services and is linked to HBO's weekly release schedule, Disney and Hulu are not tied to traditional network schedules. They have voluntarily chosen to release most episodes from week to week. (Hulu often releases three episodes at the same time to start a season then drops to one a week.) Apple is allegedly planning to take the same route when its streaming service, Apple TV Plus, starts this fall.
The weekly release model is a smart move for Disney – and possibly every new streaming service that is initially focused on building a subscriber file, rather than maintaining a demanding, existing service. Linking new content to beloved franchises and then distributing them a little at a time is a way for Disney to keep subscribers hooked. When Disney + is launched, people who want to see all Jon Favreau & # 39; s Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, their subscriptions must remain active for at least a few months. While cord cutters routinely look for ways to get in and out of new services and combine the content they care about, Disney wants to keep the original subscribers stable and add more throughout the year. The strategy is crucial for Disney to reach its estimated target of around 10 million customers by the end of 2020.
But the weekly release model is not just company. Netflix's decision to release its shows against the season instead of the episode helped change the television culture. It conditioned viewers to believe that streaming should be equal to immediacy. Those eating habits have caused a cultural disruption, with new etiquette rules being created online in an effort to respect other people's viewing schedules. People argue endlessly about spoiler etiquette in popular shows such as Weird stuff, where many viewers have watched the entire season within the first day of release, while others only have time to experience it gradually.
Netflix has the freedom to release entire seasons at once due to the continuous waterfall of content. It has licensed content to fall back on (although not as much as it used to be) when people just want to set up some comfort TV, but it has also increased its content development budget by more than $ 10 billion in recent years to bring a steady stream of material to its binge-trained consumers.
HBO, Hulu, Amazon and Disney do not have that luxury. Disney launches with considerably less content than Netflix – a point that CEO Bob Iger has called several times with investors. However, it does not need that much content. Disney is not busy ordering hundreds of shows or movies every year to increase the range; it depends on a play that resembles the HBO model rather than the Netflix model.
"Our task is difficult, but it is not as difficult, because our content strategy is about quality, not quantity, "said Michael Paull, president of streaming services at Disney The edge on D23. "Our content is about curation."
Disney wants each of its shows to have a cultural impact and that people talk about it week after week. It is comparable to what Hulu hoped to achieve with original series such as Castle rock and The maid's story. Amazon went with a similar approach to its shows, such as The Grand Tour and The wonderful Mrs. Maisel, and it's what Apple plans to do with series like The morning show. These are expensive shows and their parent companies want people to talk about it endlessly, not fly through them and immediately start looking for the next.
By reducing the water cooler effect to streaming television, companies get more impact and attention. While viewers talked about every new episode of HBO & # 39; s Game of Thrones for a week or more while it was in the broadcast, the new season of the Netflix hit Weird stuff seems to have come and gone in a flash. researchers long suggested that people who binge watch a show also forget what is happening than people who plan their viewing time. Bingers are more likely to experience the euphoric highlights, as psychologists have discovered, but they also go past a show faster when they have finished watching.
The most ironic result of the streaming wars is a return to what TV gave a shared pastime between the 1950s and the days before Netflix: waiting together, partying and feeling sorry. Adam Chitwood at Collider said it best:
As someone who yearns for the days that we could come from the internet after every episode Lost and speculate wildlife without worrying about spoiling the episode for people, or grieving with friends about that shocking episode of ER the night before, I am very fond of weekly Disney + episodes.