Most Netflix Originals arrive all in one go so viewers, over the years, have got used to being able to binge-watch their new favourite shows as soon as they arrive on the service. So many people now opt for this method that I frequently see people complaining about regular TV shows being weekly and not all in one. Obviously with broadcast / linear TV this is really the only option and the jury is still out on whether one, if any, is the better distribution model. There are pros and cons to each.
These last couple of days I’ve seen a number of news posts claiming that Netflix are “abandoning binge watching” and “experimenting with weekly episodes” instead – some outlets even claiming that this is in direct response to Disney’s recent announcement that their original Disney+ shows will be released weekly. Let’s look into this, shall we?
While it is true that Disney have announced that they will use a weekly episode release schedule the ‘news’ that Netflix are experimenting with this is nothing new. In fact outside of America this has been a staple part of Netflix since the final season of “Breaking Bad” was added weekly to Netflix UK way back in 2013. Since then, many countries have received weekly episodes of shows on Netflix shortly after they air in America. Shows such as “The Good Place”, “Jane the Virgin”, “Suits”, “iZombie”, “Riverdale”, “Dynasty”, “Black Lightning” and “Star Trek: Discovery” have all received the weekly episode treatment on Netflix around the globe.
However, as an American audience member once proudly told the comedian Brendon Burns: “We don’t know that, we’re American!”*. OK, I get it – you’re in a big country and you rarely get any news about anything that happens outside The States. That being said, even in America there are a number of shows with weekly episodes – there are the obvious ones like Netflix’s own “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” which makes sense to be weekly as it is a topical show; But there are others, too, such as a number of Korean and Chinese shows like “Arthdal Chronicles”, “Designated Survivor: 60 Days” and “Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung”.
So the fact that “The Great British Baking Show” (or “The Great British Bake-Off” to use its proper name) is getting weekly episodes for Collection 7 (aka Series 10) is not really an experiment at all and certainly nothing to do with the recent announcement about Disney+ opting for a weekly release schedule. The upcoming hip-hop artist competition, Rhythm+Flow, will also be taking a weekly release format. This, again, makes sense when you put it into context. The first 4 episodes will arrive in one go – these are the auditions. Then the rest of the episodes are being recorded in front of a live audience where there will be hundreds of people who know the results and who gets knocked out etc – so a weekly schedule makes sense. Just like many countries get weekly episodes of “America’s Got Talent” – it means you don’t have the winners spoiled before you’ve had chance to see the episode.
So, in a nutshell, Netflix are not experimenting with anything new. They are simply adding more shows from other countries shortly after they air on TV in their home nation. It is also highly likely that actual Netflix Originals (as opposed to exclusive shows that are marketed as Netflix Originals) will still drop in one fell swoop. Don’t worry, your bingeing days are still safe!
*Brendon Burns: Pompously Lectures Americans