If you’re as old as me, you’ll remember a time when streaming services didn’t exist. You couldn’t have The Office on a 24-hour loop to keep you company. If you wanted to watch an episode or two, you had to hope it was on TV at that exact moment, or dig up the DVDs, which were so expensive you probably didn’t care. You also had to make do with the episode that was happening at that time. No need to skip straight to Dinner Party for the best uncomfortable comedy The Office has to offer. As for new shows, they would air on TV once a week between fall and spring, with next to nothing during the summer.
Then Netflix came along and quickly stopped mailing DVDs and asking you to send them back. It became the first streaming giant, largely because Netflix executives quickly realized that people like to sit down and watch the same TV shows episode after episode. The dawn of binge-watching. From then on, it not only added old shows it acquired all at once, but it also added its brand new shows and Netflix Originals at the same time.
Netflix gives us new seasons all at once, which is why weekly viewing and seasons running from fall to spring seem like ancient history. Or at least for a few years. Enter Disney+ and a new online speech to add to the pile. There are plenty of streaming services out there, but Disney effectively took second place to Netflix as soon as it was announced, beating out Amazon Prime. To be fair, its back catalog is so deep that it contains content from the 1930s.
This means Disney is able to call some major streaming plans. He watched Netflix drop entire seasons all at once, said “No thanks,” and made us wait seven days between each episode of The Mandalorian. This caused an uproar on social media. Whether it was people who had simply forgotten it was like that, or people who were too young to remember that time, many people were upset that they couldn’t watch all of the exploits of Mando in one sitting. , or on a glorious weekend.
Rather than give in to the pressure of binge-watching culture, Disney has stuck to its guns and continues to release episodes of its new shows a week at a time. Apple does the same. Amazon Prime, in an attempt to please viewers on both sides of the fence, gives us three episodes of The Boys and then makes us wait a week between each other episode. I still don’t know if it’s better, worse or just different.
When Netflix was the only game in town, giving subscribers an entire season of a show to watch at their leisure was fine. Now that there are other big players in town, with equally if not bigger shows to watch, the issues with Netflix’s overwatch system have been thrown into the spotlight. Now more than ever, the three streaming services already mentioned in this article have recently played some of their biggest cards. Stranger Things for Netflix, new Marvel and Star Wars shows on Disney+ and The Boys on Amazon Prime.
The new season of Stranger Things had a big impact when it landed last month. So much so that Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill has moved up the charts. In two weeks, which honestly is probably a bit generous, the buzz surrounding Stranger Things 4 had almost entirely fallen off the map. Obi-Wan, on the other hand, was the subject of weekly discussions. Some have praised it as one of the best things Star Wars has done since Rogue One, and that it’s even better than the critically acclaimed Mandalorian. All this in the face of people lamenting the fact that they couldn’t watch all six consecutive hours three weeks ago. Who would have thought?
It was even worse for the second season of The Witcher at the end of 2021. Yes, a lot of people watched it, which is awesome. But I felt like fewer people were talking about it, which is bad. People watching your shows are one thing. People are saying positive things about them, not to mention going back to your streaming service to watch them at the same time every week, well, that’s another thing altogether, and it really feels like it should be the goal.
What’s odd is that not only is Netflix aware of this, but it followed the weekly formula with Better Call Saul and it paid off. The first half of the Breaking Bad spinoff’s final season generated a ton of buzz as its episodes dropped on Netflix once a week. No spoilers here, but this mid-season finale has ensured that everyone will be back for the final run in July as well. It’s odd that Netflix hasn’t decided to do the same with Stranger Things, especially considering how long some episodes in the new season are.
Whether the impatient binge-watchers among you admit it or not, weekly episodic TV is also better for you. As someone who’s given in to the Netflix method in the past and binged on a show I love all of a sudden, the feeling you get right after knowing it could be years before the next set of new episodes, is incredibly empty. . The problem is that, thanks to social media, when a show suddenly drops, many feel the need to watch it right away so nothing gets spoiled, even if they’d rather spread those episodes out over a glorious summer.
Disney may well end this culture. So many shows have dropped new seasons lately that I’ve only managed to watch one episode of Stranger Things 4 as I type this. Every time I try to catch up, there’s a new episode of Ms. Marvel, or Obi-Wan, or The Boys to watch instead. Watching this episode of a new show as soon as it came out brings me back to a time when everyone sat in front of their televisions at the same time and watched the same thing. When a new episode of Lost or The Walking Dead aired, it was a date, just like Disney shows are now. Stranger Things, on the other hand, was either watched in its entirety and forgotten about a week later, or it just sits there at the back of the queue while I keep up to date with shows that get topped off every week.
Although Better Call Saul has bucked the trend somewhat, it’s probably not a sign that Netflix is going to drastically change its formula anytime soon. The streaming giant has been upsetting its subscribers left and right lately, so it’s likely worried about alienating them even further by suddenly deciding it won’t give them its biggest shows all at once as soon as they will be ready. Then again, Netflix seems to be in the mood to antagonize people, whether it’s raising its prices or canceling shows before giving them a real chance, so maybe it’ll follow in Disney’s footsteps.
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