Should Netflix release “hit shows” weekly?


Could revamping its format help Netflix in the long run?

With over 150 million global subscribers and a recent price increase that I doubt will deter hardly anyone from continuing their subscription, Netflix seems to be in pretty good shape. But with Apple and Disney among the swarm of competitors that are entering the “streaming game,” Netflix may have to work a bit to maintain its dominance.

Netflix has become almost synonymous with “binging” television shows, giving viewers an entire season of content at a time and encouraging them to jump from one episode right into the next. This approach appears to have worked, as Netflix has had consistent subscriber growth for a long time now. In fact, Deadline recently reported that the streaming service had hit a new record for subscribers.

But when Netflix viewers take a brief break in their binging, some yearn for the past when more shows released episodes weekly. This enabled people to discuss and theorize about a show week-to-week and watch/react together as it aired live.

More from Show Snob

There’s no better representation of this than Game of Thrones, which despite the mixed reception to the final season, has captivated the culture for weeks on end. The build-up to the final season and the abundance of week-to-week reaction/analysis is something that may become extremely rare in the “binging era.”

No one would want or expect Netflix to completely revamp its platform, but is there reason to believe it should occasionally try replicating the “Thrones model” and release shows weekly?

In today’s world, the media cycle and online conversation move so quickly from one topic to the next. In a sense, the best way for Netflix to succeed is to always have at least one piece of content that temporarily captures the world’s short-term attention span, thus driving people to the platform.

This is where the “binging model” has in a sense been genius. Whereas releasing weekly episodes of a new show may garner some level of moderate attention for a few months, releasing an entire season at once can garner a relatively high level of national attention, albeit for maybe just a few days to a week.

Netflix has been betting that these “spurts” of high-level attention are the best way to break into the national conversation and “hook” non-subscribers. Along the same lines, this has allowed Netflix to thrust its new content into the spotlight from day one, whereas solid weekly shows can take two-to-four seasons to get the same level of attention.

More. Stranger Things: Season 3 trailer teases new threat and some killer 80’s fashion. light

So in a way, it makes sense that Netflix uses its binging model to elevate the attention level around its new content. But there’s an argument to be made that for some of its hit shows, like perhaps Stranger Things, this “attention boost” isn’t necessary. The goal seems to be to thrust content into the national conversation; but if a show is popular enough to sustain a strong attention level over weekly episodes, why not take advantage of it? As Game of Thrones has shown, a highly popular weekly show is capable of grasping more attention and for a longer period of time than any show that has a season released all at once.

Game of Thrones, however, might just be an outlier. It’s not clear if Netflix has a single show that would dominate conversation enough to make weekly episodes worth it. But it’s also worth considering whether some of this is Netflix’s own doing. Stranger Things had a lot of hype coming into season two, arguably more than season three will have, so it’s possible Netflix already missed the chance to capitalize on the “Thrones model.” If it had released season two of Stranger Things weekly and committed to doing the same for the third installment, would the attention level heading into season three be greater than it is now?

Next. 15 new Netflix originals to keep you busy this May. dark

Overall, Netflix is doing just fine the way it is, but as it continues to face more and more competition, it may feel the need to make certain tweaks. Although it would likely never make sense for Netflix to release season 1 of a show weekly, it’s possible this model could benefit existing shows that hit a certain level of popularity. It could end up being optimal for everyone, not just the fans that love analyzing and theorizing week-to-week, but the pocketbooks of Netflix executives as well.