Weekly vs binge.

That’s been the biggest lingering debate for Netflix for years now and while you may

fall in one camp or the other, could the compromise of split seasons be the way

forward at least for its biggest shows? We think it does. 

Netflix for years has been facing increasing competition and more recently, faced slowing growth

following the pandemic which has led both pundits calling for change and caused Netflix

itself to reverse course on several key issues.

For example, for years, Netflix has been adamant that they will not introduce ads but given

reporting in recent weeks, that’s due to soon change. Perhaps the second biggest change

people have suggested is giving up the binge model which put Netflix on the map in the first place.

Earlier this year, we weighed up the pros and cons of going weekly vs the binge.

For the pros, we noted how it sustains viewership and keeps conversations going for the

title over a period of time and how it reduces churn. On the negative side of binge,

we argued that Netflix’s lineup doesn’t support it which would mean bigger shows

wouldn’t allow smaller ones to find any audiences as they’d suck up all the oxygen,

and ultimately we concluded that Netflix’s UI would need an overhaul to support weekly too.

So that brings us to where we are today with Stranger Things dominating the summer

and cementing why we think split seasons are the way forward at least for the

bigger Netflix shows and here’s a breakdown as to why and why it’s good

that shows are split.

We should caveat all of this with the fact that two-pronged releases aren’t new to Netflix.

We’ve seen numerous shows, especially in the past year, use the release method.

Ozark most recently split up its fourth season in early 2022, Lucifer split its

fifth season (which was originally supposed to be its last) into two halves and

Money Heist also split its final season too.

Ozark’s final season was split into two halves – Picture: Netflix

Disney+ Shows Demonstrate Why Split Seasons Could Be More Effective

Disney+ doesn’t drop shows in two halves but from the performance of their shows

we can see why splitting in two halves will not only keep the momentum going

but also allow for shows in between the two halves to live and breathe.

If we look at Google Trends (which is not viewership but rather showing interest/demand)

you can see from three recent Marvel releases, Loki, Hawkeye and Moon Knight

that there are two clear spikes. One for when the series premieres and one when

the series finale takes place.

Google Trends – Loki vs Hawkeye vs Moon Knight

By splitting seasons on Netflix, they too can replicate this trend with the time in

between the release of volume 1 and volume 2 allowing other shows to start

(something Disney+ doesn’t typically do) and thrive. After all, since the release

of Stranger Things season 4 volume 1, we’ve seen over 55 new Netflix Original

arrive on the service.

To help the show not fade though, as we’ve seen with Stranger Things, allow for

bonus content to be released, teasers and trailers for the upcoming volume which

sustains the conversation until the release of season 4 volume 2.

That seems to be doing the trick with Stranger Things several weeks after its launch

not dropping the majority of interest according to Google Trends as per the previous

two seasons.

Stranger Things Interest for Season 4 vs Seasons 2 & 3

Split Seasons Allows For More Episodes Per Season

Another bonus from the split seasons we’ve seen drop so far is often they’re expanded seasons.

Many miss the network TV days where we’d get close to or over 20 episodes per season

but if split seasons can demonstrate their worth to Netflix, perhaps it becomes more

common. Lucifer’s split season had an episode count of 16 which was up from the

10 it usually dropped and Manifest is similarly getting an unusually

large fourth season too.

Manifest is getting a supersized final season – Picture: Warner Bros. Television

Helps Reduces Churn For Two-Quarters Rather Than Just One

If you’re subscribed to Netflix only for Stranger Things, then with split seasons

it’s more likely you’re going to be subscribed to Netflix for two quarters

(or two months across two quarters) as opposed to just a single month that

you would be if it just dropped all at once.

That’s good for Netflix’s subscriber quarterly numbers especially now they’re

being more closely scrutinized than ever. Also from Netflix’s point of view,

that gives them more time to try and get you hooked with something else.

Most Netflix Shows Should Stick to Binge

We should note that split seasons are likely only going to be reserved for Netflix’s

biggest shows. Think The WitcherBridgertonThe Umbrella Academy in terms

of scale with most of the other shows that are either new or much smaller in scale

still having the classic binge model that you know and love.

With that said, some Netflix shows should and will still trial different release

schedules to see what ultimately leads to the most viewership. We’ve seen reality

shows release in batches of 3 (although data doesn’t really suggest this helps a

series grow) and we’ll also see shows that Netflix has international distribution

with such as K-dramas imported from South Korea drop weekly.

Do you like the split-season model Netflix has been trialing over the past year

or so? Do you think it’s here to stay? Let us know in the comments down below.

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