No More Netflix Binge

Matt Birchler speculates about why Netflix chose not to release Stranger Things Season 4 all at once.

I don’t have any data to back this up, but I wonder if the release schedule for shows is what makes the difference for first month unsubscribers being higher on Netflix. If you want to keep up with The Mandalorian on Disney+, you gotta subscribe for at least 2 months to watch it as the rest of the world does. Same deal with most things on Apple TV+, Hulu, and HBO Max as well. But Netflix still releases basically all of their shows at once, so you can binge them in a week and cancel without missing the zeitgeist. As a viewer, I’ve actually come back to preferring the weekly release cycle as well. It’s just more fun to enjoy a show for a couple moths with people all at the same place rather than to have a few days where you feel you need to watch to avoid spoilers or miss the conversations people have about the show.

Like Birchler, I prefer the weekly release cycle. I never enjoyed binging a show, though, which occasionally drove my wife nuts. The weekly cadence makes a show feel more like an event or a special occasion. I have to say it was great to have my whole family look forward to the nights we could watch Obi-Wan Kenobi together. With my sons' knowledge of Star Wars lore, we had some pretty interesting discussions during and after the episodes. I don’t think the same dynamic would have taken hold with a binge.

I also wonder why it has taken so long for Netflix to adopt the strategy of the other streaming services. Despite what they’ve said in the past, the objective is not to get you to stream a ton of content, but to stream enough content that you really like, so you’ll maintain that subscription every month. The more you stream, the more they have to rely on AWS elasticity and scale out, costing them more. So it makes sense to have less frequently released, higher quality content.

Why Netflix May Have Spread Out Stranger Things Season 4

 
Robert Rackley @rcrackley
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