Spoiler Alert! Ruining The Show For 'Slow' Viewers
As well as losing viewers to the decreased buzz about a show, Netflix's decision to drop full seasons at once may be losing fans for another reason: the dreaded spoiler. While there is no set length/number of episodes that applies to every series, the majority of the popular drama shows have around ten hour-long episodes. (Some have as few as eight episodes per season, or episodes as short as 30 mins, but others have up to 15 episodes that can be as long as 80 mins each.) That's ten hours of straight bingeing to watch a season when it drops, and the majority of people don't have ten hours to spare on an average day. And while many of the original series will drop on a Friday, to allow people to take advantage of free time on a weekend, not all do. They also appear on the service at midnight, meaning that anyone who wants to watch the full season spoiler-free has to pull an all-nighter to do it.
So while binge-watching a full season may be an enjoyable way for a few lucky people to spend a weekend, the majority of Netflix fans spend the days or weeks after a show drops dodging spoilers. For those who fail, a season can be effectively ruined, leading to fans giving up on the show entirely. Even those who make it through often find that by the time they have found ten hours to spare, it's difficult to find other people to talk to online who have finished it on exactly the same schedule, and are just as enthused about giving the show a post-mortem. Compare this to shows like Game of Thrones, which sees millions of people watching at exactly the same rate, and talking about the show at the same time, and it's clear that the Netflix model isn't ideal. Further, other fans may just find the idea of having a full season to watch at once a little overwhelming; doling out episodes on a weekly basis helps maintain interest, not just guarantee that fans are all talking about the same things at the same moment.
Weekly Episodes Are The Way Forward
It's clear that although Netflix does an incredible job of drumming up interest in their original series, they would do an even better job if they started releasing those series on a week-by-week basis. This is already working for Riverdale, a show that is released on the CW on Wednesday evenings, before hitting Netflix on Thursdays outside the US.
That show may be week-to-week because it's a series produced in partnership with another network, but it proves that Netflix can have a successful show that isn't released a season at a time. For now, there may be no plans to put the Netflix Original Series on a different schedule when they aren't partnered with someone else, but hopefully seeing the success of those that are will help the streaming service make their next big change.