Not too long ago, I mentioned trusting streaming services more than your average cable network, and I argued that this was, in part, due to the fact that Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video all provide immediacy in viewing. Watchers can handle plots where little details that we may not remember week to week matter because they don’t need to wait to see the next episode in order to understand the significance of such details. Most of their original content is posted in units measured in seasons rather than in weekly episodes, and this allows us to swallow whole shows and seasons in days, if not in hours.
… Explained, Better Call Saul, Mr. Sunshine, and Power appear with new episodes on a weekly basis, causing viewers to come back again and again…
However, I also began to notice the recent phenomenon in which Netflix has begun to release weekly content in addition to its season-long programming. Shows like Explained, Better Call Saul, Mr. Sunshine, and Power appear with new episodes on a weekly basis, causing viewers to come back again and again to see if there’s been an update. Both Explained – a Vox docuseries – and Mr. Sunshine – a Korean drama – are Netflix-specific content in the United States (the latter airs weekly in South Korea on a cable network). Power airs on Starz in the U.S. but on Netflix in the U.K., and there’s been big hype around the drama.
Why would a business that has made so much money running full seasons at a time switch to a model in which some of those shows air on a weekly basis?
…if I wanted to watch Dexter and Dexter alone, I would create an account, obsessively binge watch, and then cancel the service once I finished the show that I wanted.
Obviously, it’s important that Netflix retains its modus operandi in which full seasons are available for streaming all at once. However, if I wanted to watch Dexter and Dexter alone, I would create an account, obsessively binge watch, and then cancel the service once I finished the show that I wanted. Eventually, Netflix will not be able to upload the sheer amount of content that it once did, simply because there will likely never be as much content to add as was added in the beginning. That’s just the nature of it. Therefore, if people are flocking less to watch the three or four cable shows that 1) they didn’t watch weekly or 2) didn’t watch while they were on cable at all, then they have less of a reason to keep the service beyond that individual show.
Weeklies require viewers to come back each week to watch. Furthermore, they make it so that, if you stop, you give something up. Viewers aren’t able to access Netflix-exclusive shows anywhere else already, but they could start and stop their service if they wanted to just watch that individual show. With a weekly show, there is consistently new content that a non-subscriber is missing out on by not having Netflix.
…they make it so that, if you stop, you give something up.
Additionally, weeklies provide a consistency on which you can rely for new releases. While some die hard fans know the release dates for each of the new seasons of their shows, many aren’t aware of when to expect new content. Netflix has gotten much better at publicizing these dates, but still, some don’t keep them at the forefront of their minds. Weeklies make sure you keep coming back for this new content, and, in the meantime, who knows what you’ll stumble upon?
With all of this in mind, a big question for me lies in whether or not Netflix even has to worry about viewers leaving the subscription service. It has repeatedly proven time and time again to be a powerhouse for good original content. Despite Amazon and Hulu, Netflix still reigns supreme…unless there’s something we don’t know.
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