Netflix Still Thinks Bingeing is The Way to Release Most Shows, But Not For Everything

Netflix pioneered the “binge release” by releasing all episodes of a season of a show at once. Other companies have followed suit, like Amazon Prime Video, but some like Hulu and HBO have continued to release on a weekly basis.

On their Third Quarter Investor Call, Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, still believes that bingeing is the way to go. “What we’ve seen is in markets where we release it all at once, versus one a week, is that we actually get more viewing and cumulatively more social media buzz more tweets…for the all at once model.”

But that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to try something else. He says the company has 35 shows around the world where they release week-over-week, like British Baking Show in the U.S., in order to bring it as soon as possible to customers in those markets. They’ve also tested shorter seasons, like with The Ranch, releasing 10 episodes every six months, instead of 20 episodes once a year.

There is also certain content that just doesn’t lend itself to binge releases. They launched a music competition show called Rhythm + Flow which released weekly in sets — like the auditions, battles, and then the episodes leading to the finale. Sarandos says, that “there might be something unique about the release rhythms of competition shows and more topical talk shows that lend themselves better to frequency release.”

When Disney+ and Apple TV+ launches next month, they will be release a few episodes at once, then rolling the rest every week. Netflix has the advantage of a breadth of content that they can continue to release series to binge. Disney and Apple has a much smaller originals catalog meaning if they released it to binge, customers would be able to watch every quickly — and potentially churn.