More release models are emerging as platforms start to experiment
Remember when the concept of ‘repeats’ existed? Broadcasters would be routinely harangued for airing programmes for a second time – and heaven forbid the BBC should offer up repeats over the Christmas period.
That Netflix has splashed so much cash on the series needs to be seen in the context of it losing Friends to HBO Max and The Office US to NBC’s forthcoming streamer.
It is also indicative of the power of evergreen content to command a premium, thanks to viewers’ appetite for rewatching shows and to the key premise of on-demand: watching what you want, when you want it.
So why does it feel as though there’s an emerging buzz around the weekly release model?
Netflix’s forthcoming dance competition Rhythm & Flow (pictured above) is to be released in three blocks, for its three different stages. While the SVoD giant has been quick to characterise that decision as a rare diversion from its commitment to bingeing, it does make one wonder if hybrid models might emerge in the future.
“Whereas it once felt as though there was an inevitable march towards all programming being dropped in one go, across all platforms, a more nuanced approach feels the most likely outcome”
One factor is that Netflix has plenty of experience of weekly drops, in the shape of its acquired content. Shows such as Star Trek Discovery, bought from CBS, are released in the UK in line with US TX, and Netflix will be gathering data all the time about their performance.
Part of that will be around the buzz a show can generate. The Curtis family is watching the final series of Suits at the moment, via Netflix, and the experience is precisely that of a traditional broadcaster, with the ‘TX’ day committed to memory.
Hulu has favoured the weekly drop for some time, Apple TV+ is rumoured to be following suit and Amazon has been open to experimentation, most obviously with The Grand Tour.
So where does that leave viewers? Could streamers’ archive content be boxed for bingeing and new shows scheduled to deliver maximum impact? And where does that leave traditional broadcasters, who are pushing the other way and experimenting with box-setting original content at, or ahead of, linear launch?
There are probably no clear answers and there will be plenty of tests and trials of release patterns in the months ahead.
But whereas it once felt as though there was an inevitable march towards all programming being dropped in one go, across all platforms, a more nuanced approach feels the most likely outcome, in the medium term at least.
- Chris Curtis is the editor in chief of Broadcast