Netflix’s horrible binge watching content distribution model

posted at 3:31 pm on June 8, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

This weekend I took some time out to watch the first few episodes of the second season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. To be specific, I watched four episodes on Saturday in between taking care of other tasks. OitNB isn’t the first of their original programming I’ve watched and enjoyed. I’ve seen all of Lilyhammer, and most of the first season of House of Cards. (It’s not that I didn’t like it. I got distracted and kept meaning to go watch the rest, but just haven’t gotten around to it.) But before you begin to think this is a review of their programming, that’s not the point here.

The issue which I was discussing with a few friends this weekend was a fairly simple question: why in the world does Netflix release an entire season of shows at one time? I’d love to talk to the marketing magnates at Netflix who came up with this brainstorm, because I really can’t think of a profit or market driven justification.

When I asked among some other laymen, one answer offered was that neither ratings nor advertising revenue are a factor for Netflix original programming the way that they are for network and cable offerings. True enough, but that’s really not an explanation of why they do it this way… it’s just a reason they don’t have to do it the other way. What, if anything, is the advantage to this?

Honestly, I’m not seeing one. But there does seem to be a clear disadvantage, though it may not relate directly to immediate revenue. One of the chief drivers for movies and television programs is word of mouth. You need to generate buzz and get people talking if you want to get large numbers of viewers. It’s a commodity that no amount of advertising dollars can match. And the television shows that really generate this buzz do it week after week. One of the first shows that comes to mind currently is Game of Thrones. It’s a huge success for HBO, and every Monday morning I wind up talking to people about what happened on this week’s episode. Later in the week, speculation often crops up over what will or won’t happen next, who will get killed off or how Tyrion is going to get his butt out of a jam this week.

That sort of continual speculation leads to huge in-person and online fan bases spreading the word and attracting new viewers. Fan forums crop up where strangers from around the world can debate, praise or curse the show in posts which go on for hundreds or thousands of comments. And this is precisely what’s missing with Orange is the New Black, Lilyhammer and the other shows mentioned above. People binge watch the entire season as fast as they can and then it’s done. They may go into the office and chat about it for a few days, but after that, what’s left to say? The show is over for at least a long span of months or perhaps permanently.

I couldn’t find any hard numbers concerning online fan forums, but a quick Google search on Game of Thrones communities turned up a huge list of choices, many with hundreds of threads going on for ages. A similar search for OitNB returned far fewer choices, and the ones I found weren’t exactly active.

I wasn’t the first person to notice this seemingly missed opportunity. Matt Lewis shared some similar thoughts about Arrested Development a while back.

Netflix has decided to release their original series’ all-at-once. This encourages binge watching, which I enjoy. But it also serves to undercut the buzz they might otherwise garner as viewers anticipate the release of new episodes each week. As a consequence, their original shows debut to much fanfare, but then fail to sustain the type of ongoing commentary that, say, HBO’s Girls, elicits each week.

Had Netflix release the episodes on a weekly basis, reviewers and cultural critics might have held out hope for the show to fix its problems. In this case, that’s not an option. The verdict seems to be that the only reason to see this is for the sake of nostalgia.

I get that Netflix is trying to build an entirely new paradigm in content development, so they want to do things differently. And I suppose they can claim some credit for spawning the phenomenon of “binge watching” today. But is coining that phrase worth the loss of the buzz described above? And do you really like binge watching? Sure, it’s a long, sustained rush like staying up all night reading a great novel, but then you’re done. Anticipation is the larger part of enjoyment, isn’t it? Even if Netflix doesn’t want to do the television formula of one show per week on the same night, they should at least throttle it back to two per week or something along those lines.


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“I’d love to talk to the marketing magnates at Netflix who came up with this brainstorm, because I really can’t think of a profit or market driven justification.”

The market-driven justification is that this is what the market wants. You better serve your customer, they become more loyal.

[ sarcasm on ]

And why would anyone want the freedom to watch something when they want?

Better to be told when and where you can watch something. Sit down in that chair and do as you are told. By the way, I like being told by my cafeteria at work what food to eat what days. All those choices, are too much to bear. And we all share that exciting build-up to tuna salad sandwich Fridays, too.

[ sarcasm off ]

This is my general issue with many of Jazz’s posts. Reliable on some issues, like 2nd amendment, but out to lunch on economics and markets and other aspects of liberty and freedom.

Just for comparison, by son (less than 10 years old) recently asked why he couldn’t see any of the episodes of something at a friends house of his favorite cartoon, which were all available on-demand at ours. Not having been brought up in the pointless traditions of broadcast television, he is able to see beyond.

Jazz, not so much. Eh, freedom is not for everyone, apparently.

PrincetonAl on June 8, 2014 at 3:37 PM

A lot of bosses have told me over the years that one of the things they hate to hear is “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Don’t change the release system Netflix, I think it’s great.

deimos on June 8, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Anticipation is the larger part of enjoyment, isn’t it?

…huh…not always!

KOOLAID2 on June 8, 2014 at 3:42 PM

And do you really like binge watching?

What I hate is having to wait for the next episode assuming it isn’t moved around, preempted, the series goes weird/deteriorates, or the entire series is canceled. I wait until it is all out and then watch at my own pace.

sharrukin on June 8, 2014 at 3:43 PM

People binge watch the entire season as fast as they can and then it’s done. They may go into the office and chat about it for a few days, but after that, what’s left to say? The show is over for at least a long span of months or perhaps permanently.

I’m not sure why you think this. Do you think that people only watch movies they like once?

Cable channels have been doing the same thing for a while – series marathons. Now, these come out after the series has aired serially, I know, but that doesn’t stop people from watching the series marathons … over and over.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 8, 2014 at 3:44 PM

I couldn’t find any hard numbers concerning online fan forums, but a quick Google search on Game of Thrones communities turned up a huge list of choices, many with hundreds of threads going on for ages. A similar search for OitNB returned far fewer choices, and the ones I found weren’t exactly active.

Have you considered that GoT is a better show than OitNB?

themuppet on June 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

And then, there are those of us who don’t care about speculative fandom and collective identity, Jazz.

Some of us just want to be able to watch a show when we’re able to.

HikaruKitsune on June 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Obviously you are thinking of the ghost of television past. Netflix wants subscribers, not advertisers. It doesn’t cost them anything to make all episodes available immediately.

Instead of scheduling and advertising the week’s fare, viewers do the scheduling of their own lives and pay their fare up front.

It’s pretty forward thinking and I’ll bet more and more profitable as the selection keeps expanding.

Question: We started to watch to the first episode of the first season of Orange … Black, but it was, not to put a too fine point on it, disgusting. If you want girlie porn, watch it, but don’t advertise it as general entertainment.

We were disappointed because we also liked all their earlier series.

erp on June 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

And then, there are those of us who don’t care about speculative fandom and collective identity, Jazz.

Some of us just want to be able to watch a show when we’re able to.

…and wouldn’t touch Orange is the Same Old Progressive Crap with a 10 foot pole.

HikaruKitsune on June 8, 2014 at 3:46 PM

What, if anything, is the advantage to this?

Honestly, I’m not seeing one.

really? wow. All there TV shows are released by season.

This is the advantage. It keeps the customer locked on to netflix. No flipping stations, no ads nothing but the show. Viewers don’t have to search the internet for bootleg copies of the next show. they don’t have to go to hulu for eposide 2 or amazon for the 1.99 per show. they have the entire season. they can watch it one after the other or watch a couple shows concurrently. They can flip back a couple eposides if they forget something. In short having the entire season available hooks the viewer better and more firmly then the week after week drip. Most viewers don’t stay with a show all season long. Live happens, they can’t make time for the show one week and bam all of a sudden they are lost with what’s going on in the show. they lose interest. this is the main reason that the most network TV shows steadily lose viewers during a season. the sshows that gain viewers during the season are few and far between.

As far as Game of thrones. I’m watching the 1st season now and the books are 200 times better then the show. Plus unlike waiting week after week for the show to come on HBO I can sit down and read the book cover to cover and not have to wait.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 3:47 PM

I don’t have Netflix and have never even heard of Orange is the New Black before a couple of mentions on threads, here. Is that a show about Barky’s post-Precedency jail time? Sounds pretty good if it is. He’d be a big hit in the yards with his baseball pitching, bowling, 1 for 23 jump shots, and working out like a fiend with the 2lb weights. That face he makes when he does his pretend flies is priceless. I bet that face would show up elsewhere during his prison stay, too.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 8, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Anticipation is the larger part of enjoyment, isn’t it?

not hardly. the doing, experiencing and satisfaction of the enjoyment tops anticipation any day. Unless of course the hype doesn’t live up to the reality then yes the anticipation tops the actual doing.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 3:50 PM

We stopped paying for cable years ago and have been happy with our HDTV antenna for major networks plus our Netflix subscription. It’s a much less expensive way to see almost everything you want to see if you’re willing to wait for it.

In my experience, binge watching has been done, not to keep up with what’s being aired, but to catch up on what’s being aired. I think binge watching allows people who would be left out of a conversation about a show the ability to join in if they hear good things about a show but either don’t have cable, or haven’t yet found the time to watch it. Word of mouth let’s me know which shows are worth my time. If shows on Netflix were released one week at a time like cable or network shows were, I’d decline to get involved in it without the ability to binge watch and get up to speed.

Just my 2 cents.

parteagirl on June 8, 2014 at 3:50 PM

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 3:47 PM

You know … reading books cover to cover in one sitting causes obesity and blindness. They should have to put a label on books to warn about this :)

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 8, 2014 at 3:52 PM

I prefer binge watching. Trying to keep up with a weekly show which is never really weekly since they skip weeks, is a pain in the butt. If a show is entertaining, it’s like a good book — you don’t want to put it down.

Blake on June 8, 2014 at 3:52 PM

I finished Orange Is the New Black at 4:30 this morning. I personally find it enjoyable to be able to sit and watch a show from start to finish. Sure, it destroys my weekend but the school year is finally over and it gave me a much relieved mental break. It’s the free market after all. Give me my instant gratification!!

joekenha on June 8, 2014 at 3:52 PM

I don’t do Netflix binge viewing anymore.

I’ll watch a couple of episodes and then watch something else. Let those couple of episodes digest.

Moesart on June 8, 2014 at 3:52 PM

I prefer the NetFlix model. Wait till the season is over then watch all when I want, binge if it’s good, bail if it sucks then on to the next. Too much to watch to even consider rewatching unless it’s really good but then a year or two later.

AH_C on June 8, 2014 at 3:53 PM

What I hate is having to wait for the next episode assuming it isn’t moved around, preempted, the series goes weird/deteriorates, or the entire series is canceled.
sharrukin on June 8, 2014 at 3:43 PM

I hated that as a child. You would wait all week to see your favorite show then when you schedule time to watch it you turn on the TV and some stupid ABC family movie of the week is on, or some stupid sports show that has zero of your teams is playing late then you sit through the stupid game hoping the show will air after only to discover that no it isn’t airing this week and maybe next week etc…. Once or twice of that and the you stop looking for the show and forget about it.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Anticipation is the larger part of enjoyment, isn’t it?

Uh, no. I only watch one network show (NCIS), and I detest having to wait each week. Even w DVR, I watch the show as my schedule allows. Plus, I can avoid all the commercials.

The Netflix model is a new paradigm, and I love it. In the same way newspapers are losing readers, traditional tv viewers are switching to online and Netflix/Hulu models.

The market-driven justification is that this is what the market wants. You better serve your customer, they become more loyal.
[ sarcasm on ]
And why would anyone want the freedom to watch something when they want?
Better to be told when and where you can watch something. Sit down in that chair and do as you are told. By the way, I like being told by my cafeteria at work what food to eat what days. All those choices, are too much to bear. And we all share that exciting build-up to tuna salad sandwich Fridays, too.
[ sarcasm off ]

PrincetonAl on June 8, 2014 at 3:37 PM

So true.

conservative pilgrim on June 8, 2014 at 3:54 PM

You know … reading books cover to cover in one sitting causes obesity and blindness. They should have to put a label on books to warn about this :)

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 8, 2014 at 3:52 PM

on the plus side it only causes obesity if you eat foods laced with MSG and high fructous corn sryup while reading the book. :) The book itself isn’t laced with those things yet. And if you snack on carrots while reading your eyesight will improve.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Same reason I rent GOT at the dollar place or the library so I can get it over with. Don’t like the once a week model which Amazon sometimes does, worse when they hook you on a season or two then want you to pay for the latest. In that case, I’ll wait a year or two, ie Grimm or Justified.

AH_C on June 8, 2014 at 3:57 PM

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Touche!

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 8, 2014 at 3:58 PM

I. Don’t. Care.

vnvet on June 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

It depends on the show. I wouldn’t binge an entire season of Modern Family, so I’m fine with the once-a-week dose of comedy. (I realize some people binge sitcoms, but it doesn’t appeal to me personally.) OTOH, I wish I could binge the latest season of 24 (and not have to wait until it’s old news to do so). Every episode leaves me wanting to know what happens next.

DisneyFan on June 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Once or twice of that and the you stop looking for the show and forget about it.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Or they simply cancel Firefly…bastards.

I want to have some idea of what I am getting and all too often these days some series goes sideways with political correctness, or liberal drumbeats. If I want to hear a sermon I will go to Church.

sharrukin on June 8, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Btw–I gave up on NCIS this season and will wait until the DVD set is released in August. Then I’ll binge.

conservative pilgrim on June 8, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Netflix offers a genuinely good product, and Jazz asks why they don’t just offer a lower-quality product and generate interest through hype.

What?

TBSchemer on June 8, 2014 at 4:02 PM

I prefer the Netflix model. I like taking a few days to watch an entire season of a show instead of getting it staggered over 6 or 9 months.

If a show has a plot that carries over, then I wait till the whole season is available.

El_Terrible on June 8, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Amazon and Netflix ran all those video rental places out of business by letting you watch a movie whenever you wanted. Now you can watch your Netflix shows anytime you want. Once people get used to binge watching they won’t bother with a tv show you only get to watch once a week then have to wait a week to see again.

Also, the binge-able TV series have the potential to allow better character and plot development than you would get with a regular television show. It is easier to keep up with a complicated plot with a bunch of characters if you watch several episodes at a time than if you have to wait a week for each little bit.

Also, there IS word of mouth working for these shows. I wasn’t originally interested in Orange, but all my friends kept talking about it so I finally watched it and now am hooked. Likewise, I talk up House of Cards to anyone who will listen.

bitsy on June 8, 2014 at 4:05 PM

You know, you don’t have to watch them all at once.

Or, you can. The beauty of choice.

Moesart on June 8, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Dude…we’re free to do what we want. What’s wrong with that?

Netflix (and Hulu plus) is essentially a giant “on demand” model. We can choose whatever schedule we want. Except for CBS, Hulu runs the current season of most networks, just a few nights later.

We “cut the cord” about a year ago and we’ve developed our own little system of picking a night of the week for our shows…some on Netflix and some on Hulu Plus. We’ll pick a night for “Orange” and make it last by watching it once a week. We’ve been watching “Friday Night Lights” on Friday night (wild, eh?) for a long while now. It’s fun to look forward to it.

We have binged here and there, but it’s our choice…also fun.

With (TV) freedom comes responsibility!

cranbone on June 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Jun 08, 2014 at 4:02 pm TBSchemer
Netflix offers a genuinely good product, and Jazz asks why they don’t just offer a lower-quality product and generate interest through hype.
What?

Sometimes I wonder about Jazz.

strictnein on June 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM

So funny, Jazz. Locked into that 1960s pre-cable In Living Color paradigm that you probably are actually too young to remember?

Same Bat time! Same Bat channel!

Why come out with a whole “season” at once? Because this.

Dolce Far Niente on June 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM

And this post marks the absolute end of investigative journalism in this country.

I know on the politics side it’s been dead for years, with reporters merely following government officials around and “reporting” what they say as “news” without any research, follow up or investigations.

But you know, could Jazz have maybe, I don’t know, called Netflix and just asked them why they do this?

Lance Corvette on June 8, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Easy solution: cash in your portfolio and pension, get your friends to do the same, and start up your own company to do it your way, and let the market decide.

I’m thinking I will bet on Netflix.

Adjoran on June 8, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Tinfoil hat theory.

My Theory: I pay 8 bucks a month to watch shows without commercials. NetFlix has found a growing Niche of people willing to pay for an infinite HD library of TV shows and movies without any of the hassles. It is like listening to on-demand MP3 files instead of the Radio for all of your music needs and desires.

Mord on June 8, 2014 at 4:26 PM

And I guess Walmart should only be allowed to sell you one DVD each week instead of a complete season or, God forbid, an entire show. /

Ronnie on June 8, 2014 at 4:28 PM

True enough, but that’s really not an explanation of why they do it this way… it’s just a reason they don’t have to do it the other way. What, if anything, is the advantage to this?

Just guessing…this?

This weekend I took some time out to watch the first few episodes of the second season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. To be specific, I watched four episodes on Saturday in between taking care of other tasks.

BobMbx on June 8, 2014 at 4:34 PM

There are very few shows that I feel I have to watch each week as they are released ( currently Game of Thrones and Fargo) and the rest I record the full season on my DVR and watch them at my own pace. Recently I just finished Sons of Anarchy and have two episodes left of The Walking Dead until I’m caught up.

Personally I like the idea of releasing full seasons at once and allowing the viewer to decide at what pace they want to watch them.

rsrobinson on June 8, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Why come out with a whole “season” at once? Because this.

Dolce Far Niente on June 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Funny you chose that one. I spent the better part of 2 months (nights mostly) watching “just one more episode” of BSG. This time around, vice the original release schedule, I could keep up with the story because they jumped around so damn much from week to week.

Although, once they found Earth, I realized it mostly a waste of time. Except for the “#6″ scenes. Hot damn.

BobMbx on June 8, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Why come out with a whole “season” at once? Because this.

Dolce Far Niente on June 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM

HAHAHA! That was awesome. I actually tried to watch Portlandia and couldn’t take it for more than a couple of episodes, but that was genuinely funny. I have been wanting to check out BSG for a while now…..not sure I should anymore.

Mord on June 8, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Netflix’s horrible binge watching content distribution model

Jazz’s horrible blog post title.

Honestly, I’m not seeing one.

So, since you, a lay person, don’t immediately understand their business model, it must be horrible. Why did you have to ruin an otherwise interesting blog post with such a trollishly arrogant headline?

As for the substance of your questions, a couple points, with the caveat that like you, I am just shooting the breeze on a Sunday afternoon:

Lots of people like to binge watch. That alone should make it not surprising at all that someone found (or is trying to find) a way to exploit this, regardless of the specific mechanics of how/whether their model works.

Even back in its days as a subscription DVD rental service, the appeal of Netflix’s brand was based on customers fed up with watching things on someone else’s schedule – hence the monthly fee, no-late-fees system.

The lack of commercial breaks (in contrast to, say, HULU), is of a similar spirit – they are appealing to a “stop bothering me/trying to control my life,must give me the damned content that I’m paying you for” mindset.

Producing an entire season, and then teasing viewers by only releasing one episode at a time, seriously diminishes that brand.

RINO in Name Only on June 8, 2014 at 4:41 PM

The lack of commercial breaks (in contrast to, say, HULU), is of a similar spirit – they are appealing to a “stop bothering me/trying to control my life,mustjust give me the damned content that I’m paying you for” mindset.

RINO in Name Only on June 8, 2014 at 4:41 PM

I’m not that addicted to tv:)

RINO in Name Only on June 8, 2014 at 4:49 PM

I wondered the same thing when I heard that entire new seasons of shows were being made available at once by Netflix. It isn’t the debut of new episodes that is being leveraged to sustain subscribers, but the debut of entire series on a frequent basis instead.

I do think that it detracts from fandom somewhat by having to wait only seconds to resolve what was once a summer cliffhanger. If you’re just a casual viewer, it’s great though.

I’ve been streaming a lot of foreign programming lately, full seasons are required because you can verify that all of the eps have been fully subtitled and not have to worry about tracking down another source halfway through the series.

I will never pay for Hulu, unless they come up with some commercial diversity. Seeing the same five commercials repeated endlessly while binge watching was so completely irritating.

rw on June 8, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Some people really enjoy binge watching instead of waiting for a new episode every week.

Now Netflix must be doing something correctly if there has been a buzz about OitNB since season 1.

chris0christies0donut on June 8, 2014 at 4:58 PM

In the last 6 months, my wife and I have watched four shows “periodically” as they came out:
Pawn Stars
American Restoration
Madmen
Wheel of Fortune

All of these were first downloaded to DVR so they can be viewed with fast forwarding through commercials.

In the same time period, we have watched on DVD (aka binge watching):
Americans Season 1
House MD seasons 1 to 3 and just started season 4
Masters of Sex Season 1
Mr selfridge season 1
Downton abbey Seasons 1 and 2
White collar season 1 to 5
Boardwalk empire Season 4
Game of thrones Season 3
True blood season 5
Sherlock season 2

These all had no commercials except some annoying stuff at the beginning that can be skipped.

We have Downton abbey season 3, true blood season 6, House MD seasons 4 to 8, house of cards season 2, Banshee season 1 in our near future.

As a consumer, I much prefer what you call “binge watching” where I can pause a show for days at a time if I need to, don’t have to worry about fast forwarding through the commercials, don’t lose the plot between episodes, don’t miss an episode, etc.

Some of these have come from friends recommending them, some from “if you like X, you should try Y” site suggestions, some from the library, etc. Only in the case of Sherlock did we even come close to having someone give us a spoiler.

When I was a child, I watched shows as you suggested. I would get up for a snack or a restroom break during a commercial. If I missed a week or two, I often would drop the series. I would tune in to watch re-runs hoping to see an episode I missed. Now that I am an adult, I am passed all that. If we start a series (e.g. Archer) and don’t like it, we can just stop. For older series, when they end on a cliffhanger, we can just start the next season immediately. All in all, much better. I wish network shows came out in the same manner. Then the world of entertainment is a smorgasbord that I can sample and nibble from at my pace, not a school cafeteria that serves a set meal at a set time with parts I don’t like.

yetanotherjohn on June 8, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Or they simply cancel Firefly…bastards.

I want to have some idea of what I am getting and all too often these days some series goes sideways with political correctness, or liberal drumbeats. If I want to hear a sermon I will go to Church.

sharrukin on June 8, 2014 at 4:01 PM

yeah firefly was the best. about 20 years ago a show called above and beyond had the same fate. After a couple “resechudles” they canceled the show.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I love the binge watching. I can do it to suit my schedule. I can catch up on shows I never took an interest in when they were on.

This week, I caught up on ‘The Guild’ (which was one of the first shows never to be on broadcast or cable TV). It was fun just to watch the technical progression of the show over 6 seasons.

trigon on June 8, 2014 at 5:06 PM

I’d love to talk to the marketing magnates at Netflix who came up with this brainstorm, because I really can’t think of a profit or market driven justification.

If profit was then end all and be all, we’d be looking to billionaire Al Gore for capitalist leadership.

Don’t worry about Netflix, JS.

“Shoot it off – shoot with your gun. That’s what the bullets are for your twit.”

“Okay, but you’re gonna have to answer to the Coca Cola company.”

FrankT on June 8, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Sometimes I wonder about Jazz.

strictnein on June 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM

I always wonder about him. he makes no sense 90% of the time.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:08 PM

yeah firefly was the best. about 20 years ago a show called above and beyond had the same fate. After a couple “resechudles” they canceled the show.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Very good show as well. I think they ran out of money, or had their budget cut, because the quality dropped in later episodes.

sharrukin on June 8, 2014 at 5:10 PM

I’d love to talk to the marketing magnates at Netflix who came up with this brainstorm, because I really can’t think of a profit or market driven justification.

really?

have you checked their stock price? Netflix is subscription driven. The more people who sign up and pay$8-$25 a month the more profit they make. More people sign up and stay signed up if they have massive amount of videos to watch and rent. Therefore you want your customers to keep watching so they don’t cancel their subscription. Don’t take econ 101 Jazz.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:12 PM

I do think that it detracts from fandom somewhat by having to wait only seconds to resolve what was once a summer cliffhanger. If you’re just a casual viewer, it’s great though.

That’s probably true. Of course, a typical summer cliffhanger marks a change in seasons, which in the case of, say, house of cards, would give you a 1 year cliffhanger instead, which actually seems a little too long. Makes me wonder if we’ll start seeing a compromise, with semi-annual releases of half a season.

I will never pay for Hulu, unless they come up with some commercial diversity. Seeing the same five commercials repeated endlessly while binge watching was so completely irritating.

rw on June 8, 2014 at 4:55 PM

One thing Netflix has done is seriously lowered my tolerance for commercial interruptions. I can’t see myself paying for HULU while it has ads, period, whether or not they are original.

RINO in Name Only on June 8, 2014 at 5:14 PM

I think they ran out of money, or had their budget cut, because the quality dropped in later episodes.

sharrukin on June 8, 2014 at 5:10 PM

could be all I know is everytime I tried to watch it towards the end it was always preemepted by football. never saw the last couple episodes then found out it was canceled for lack of viewers. I shook my head at that one.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:14 PM

If netflix changed to what is being said here, leaking out stuff slowly besides whole seasons at once, I will drop them. That is one of the advantages to actually using them.

watertown on June 8, 2014 at 5:17 PM

I do think that it detracts from fandom somewhat by having to wait only seconds to resolve what was once a summer cliffhanger. If you’re just a casual viewer, it’s great though.

I hate cliffhangers. since Who shot JR i find them silly little plot divices design with nothing else in mind but to get you to come back to the show. It isn’t needed. If the show is good people will watch the next season regardless of a stupid cliffhanger. In fact my bet is more people will watch without the cliffhanger than with it. People hate to wait for things like that. they get upset and find a new show.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:17 PM

That is one of the advantages to actually using them.

watertown on June 8, 2014 at 5:17 PM

that and no commercials are about the only advantages.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:18 PM

One thing Netflix has done is seriously lowered my tolerance for commercial interruptions. I can’t see myself paying for HULU while it has ads, period, whether or not they are original.

RINO in Name Only on June 8, 2014 at 5:14 PM

agreed I can’t stand ads. Got rid of TV altogether because after using the DVD side of netflix for years I just couldn’t stand to watch one more ad. when they came out with streaming I cut the cord to the Sat TV company. save %90/month for the last 3 years and haven’t seen a commerical in those three years. If it wasn’t for talk radio I would never hear or see a commercial.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:21 PM

You know, Jazz, people don’t have to binge watch. It’s not likely that many do, in fact.

Also, if Netflix kept entire seasons on lockdown AFTER they had been released to retail shelves, drip feeding one episode at a time AFTER people had already been given the chance to endure that model when it originally aired….

…then people would set sail on the first pirate ship that came to port and just torrent everything they wanted, and Netflix isn’t making money if people are cancelling and resorting to torrents because they’re not allowed to watch something THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN RELEASED AS A STANDALONE SEASON SET at whichever pace they choose.

mintycrys on June 8, 2014 at 5:21 PM

I prefer binge watching because it’s easier to keep up with contemporary series’ very complicated, multithreaded, multi-episode, multi-season plot lines.

kd6rxl on June 8, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Here is a point on binge watching. Since there is no commericals each “hour long” show is only about 40 minutes on netflix or in other words for every three episodes you watch on netflix you saved yourself an hour of commericals. In this fast world who wants to waste an hour on watching crappy commericals.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:24 PM

And do you really like binge watching? Sure, it’s a long, sustained rush like staying up all night reading a great novel, but then you’re done. Anticipation is the larger part of enjoyment, isn’t it?

Yes. So what? No.

RadClown on June 8, 2014 at 5:29 PM

I hate cliffhangers. since Who shot JR i find them silly little plot divices design with nothing else in mind but to get you to come back to the show. It isn’t needed. If the show is good people will watch the next season regardless of a stupid cliffhanger. In fact my bet is more people will watch without the cliffhanger than with it. People hate to wait for things like that. they get upset and find a new show.

unseen on June 8, 2014 at 5:17 PM

This is a good point. Now that I think on it, most of the better shows I’ve seen wrap up an arc in a suitably exciting fashion at the end of a season, while highlighting some of the unresolved plot lines that will feature in the next season, but not in an especially heavy-handed way. The end of seasons 1 and 2 of Babylon 5 did this brilliantly, I thought.

RINO in Name Only on June 8, 2014 at 5:31 PM

I’m a Sci-Fi fan. While I can appreciate Netflix’s development of original content, I’d rather they focus on getting an entire franchise online. For example, while every Star Trek TV series is available, some of the Star Trek films are not.

There’s also no Babylon 5 or Stargate TV episodes.

I’m also a mafia buff, but if you want to watch The Sopranos, you have to go elsewhere.

Netflix built its chops on getting good third party content online at a reasonable enough price to make people think about dropping cable and satellite. Why go the cable/satellite way and produce original content at the cost of forgoing what we signed up for to begin with?

Do you want to be a cable/sat alternative, or do you want to be the next AETV?

Conservative Mischief on June 8, 2014 at 5:51 PM

The summer or even weekly cliff-hanger is cliche, but while rewatching series that I had seen broadcast originally, I realized that the viewing experience is quite different. Watching Twin Peaks in ’91 is a totally different experience from binge watching it today. Watching the later seasons of DS9 today does not include reading usenet posts between each episode. For shows that you could have lived without ever seeing it matters not, but for the good shows it sort of seems like waking up on Christmas morning and finding your presents already unwrapped and stacked neatly in a pile.

I wouldn’t do away with binge watching, but it does change the viewing experience.

rw on June 8, 2014 at 5:52 PM

What, if anything, is the advantage to this?

The advantage is it puts viewers in charge, they have all the programming right there at their fingertips and can watch it whenever they want to or all at once. That’s the way things are headed with services like Roku and Apple tv, cable/satellite is heading towards antiquity quickly, a la carte programming and watching when you want is the future.

clearbluesky on June 8, 2014 at 6:01 PM

I’ve never seen this show, but I do now that Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager (Kate Mulgrew) is on it.

SouthernGent on June 8, 2014 at 6:07 PM

I’m a Sci-Fi fan. While I can appreciate Netflix’s development of original content, I’d rather they focus on getting an entire franchise online. For example, while every Star Trek TV series is available, some of the Star Trek films are not.

There’s also no Babylon 5 or Stargate TV episodes.

Conservative Mischief on June 8, 2014 at 5:51 PM

They had Babylon 5 at one point–a few years ago I binge watched it over the course of a month. They used to have every Star Trek movie, so I don’t know what happens–maybe licenses expire. I just wish it weren’t so arbitrary.

Baerwulf on June 8, 2014 at 6:20 PM

What, if anything, is the advantage to this?

Judging from the comments, I’d say it’s giving the customers what they want. Just a guess because I’m still pouting over Netflix’s last kerfuffle with their customers.

Knott Buyinit on June 8, 2014 at 6:21 PM

“What’s the point of these newfangled horseless carriages anyhow?!” -Grampa Jazz

Akzed on June 8, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Jazz asks what the advantage is for Netflix doing it this way? Flip the question: As a subscription service in which the money has already been paid by the customers, what advantage is there for Netflix to stick with the old way of doing business? They aren’t relying on advertising, so there’s no need to build up audiences week to week to keep the admen interested.

Dukeboy01 on June 8, 2014 at 7:13 PM

Anticipation is the larger part of enjoyment, isn’t it?

I dunno, I’ve always thought football season was more fun than notfootball season.

And when we binged on Sopranos in April and May I thought how much more fun it was to watch two or three episodes at once three or four evenings a week than to have to wait for one episode per week, especially when we didn’t have to wait eight months for the next season to roll around after the season finale.

The only thing missing from this Jazz piece was a hearty, “Get off my lawn you damn kids!”

Akzed on June 8, 2014 at 7:18 PM

I watch nine broadcast channels on my FREE roof antenna.
The cable series I get on DVD set from the FREE public library.
Watching the entire season of a show without interruption or commercials is wonderful, and FREE.

Wait until you are on a fixed income, kids, and you’ll get it.

Tard on June 8, 2014 at 7:30 PM

I pay Comcast for 100 channels in Spanish and another 100 channels you couldn’t pay me to watch. Among those I don’t watch are the regularly scheduling snail’s pace of weekly programming. I watch maybe ten channels on Cable.

It’s great to watch twenty episodes of Lilyhammer, or Flight of the Conchords, in a couple weeks. It’s more of a thing than watching one episode a week. Call me crazy.

Our first binge experience was the first three seasons of Breaking Bad, which we enjoyed a whole lot more than waiting a week to see one episode. But what do I know?

Jazz enjoys anticipating something he likes better than actually doing that thing. Does Mrs. Jazz have an opinion on that…?

Akzed on June 8, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Netflix used to carry Babylon 5, and I hope someday they’ll start streaming it again, but it’s been a long time now since they offered it.

As for the rest of this?

Oy vey, Jazz…

Kensington on June 8, 2014 at 7:35 PM

I like “binge watching” mate, don’t screw it up for the rest of us Jazz.

Whitey Ford on June 8, 2014 at 7:36 PM

You don’t have to binge watch Netflix or other on demand options.

You can create your own programming.

One night I can watch Person Of Interest, Revolution, Continuum, Shield.

The net night you can watch Grimm, Blacklist, The Originals, etc.

I like being able to do my own programming.

Freedom.

MichaelGabriel on June 8, 2014 at 7:38 PM

I’m the only person I know who doesn’t use Netflix or Hulu.

/rebel
//torrents

Ugly on June 8, 2014 at 7:41 PM

Wow, point missed. People subscribe to Netflix because they can binge watch.none of that network drip, drip, drip. I moved to Europe last year and now have Apple TV with Netflix and Hulu Plus. I have more time on my hands and have been binge watching all of the shows my friends have been watching for the last ten years. The Office, East Bound and Down, Dexter, etc. I hated network TV and haven’t watched in since college, but I love being able to watch these other series at my leisure. And that may be Dexter until 2 in the morning….

ktrich on June 8, 2014 at 7:46 PM

One of the reasons “Alias” worked so well–man, do I miss that show–was the ever-present cliffhanger.

Every episode fed into the next one, and before you knew it, you just HAD to be back next week to find out who was on the other end of that phone call, or how Sidney DOESN’T get killed with a nuclear device in her hand and a gun to her head, or what the heck is IN that mysterious box that is alarming both Sid and Anna Espinosa…and hey, that’s just the first three episodes.

Try taking one of the DVD box sets of “Alias,” watching one episode, and then forcing yourself not to watch the next episode for a week. If you get into it as heavily as I did, you’ll be jonesing for the next episode within 48 hours.

With a box set, or a full-season release, you don’t have to worry about what’s next: you just punch up the next episode “whenever.” With episodic television, either you watch it when everyone else does, or you avoid spoilers until you’ve checked your DVR.

I’m old enough to remember when pretty much the entire WORLD was wondering, “Who shot J.R.?” (That was “Dallas”, for you whippersnappers–all the way back in 1980.) The reveal episode pulled a 76 national share: 76% of the households in the US that had a TV on during that hour, were watching “Dallas.” (For perspective, the Super Bowl has gotten a higher national share exactly twice, and even THAT requires you to combine the shares of both networks which were broadcasting the ’67 Super Bowl.)

Episodic content is a model which has worked for as long as there has been broadcast television. If it could have been improved on, I have to suspect it wouldn’t have taken this long to “discover.”

Archangel Nation on June 8, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Just for the record, Jazz, I meant “oy vey, Jazz” with a smile. :)

Kensington on June 8, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Jazz – building these models is at the heart of what I do.

Suffice to say, it’s not really about what the audience wants since they didn’t know this was actually possible.

I’d explain the logistics, but I think you’re just pissing in the wind for content filler and not really interested in the reasoning.

budfox on June 8, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Gotta experiment if you’re gonna be a pioneer. Not everyone can be a genious of self promotion such as Jacqueline Susann and her husband.

Really. Everybody is scrounging for the next viral publicity stunt. Give it the side eye and click *next*.

RushBaby on June 8, 2014 at 8:26 PM

As a Netflix binge-watcher, I have to say that, after 3 episodes of any series, I am done, and no longer paying attention. You need recovery time. “Breaking Bad” was an addiction.

BTW, House-of-Cards is crap (even though I watched it all and I like most of Spacey’s work). The best part is the credits and the music.

virgo on June 8, 2014 at 8:28 PM

Jazz, you are free to watch one episode per week if you choose. Others can binge. Viwers choice! Good concept.

Sheerq on June 8, 2014 at 8:33 PM

First world problems.

This is why the terrorists hate us! That and lots and lots of bacon.

Wyznowski on June 8, 2014 at 8:50 PM

“What’s the point of these newfangled horseless carriages anyhow?!” -Grampa Jazz

Akzed on June 8, 2014 at 7:12 PM

“What is the point of these iPod machines? Do you really need to have your entire music library in your pocket? I would love to talk to the marketing genius who thought up that one!” -Grampa Jazz

bitsy on June 8, 2014 at 8:54 PM

No binge issues for me regarding this show. I couldn’t bring myself to make it through the first season.

Oxymoron on June 8, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Can’t bring myself to watch any of the new drivel. We watch a movie on netflix streaming maybe once a week and won’t even consider the series crap.
Watching Columbo OTA right now, followed by Thriller then Alfred Hitchcock and Outer limits when we’re laying in bed.

I thought only liberals watched that new garbage.

Norky on June 8, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Sorry, this was tongue in cheek, right? Who makes you binge watch, binge eat, binge anything, LOL.

Allahs vulva on June 8, 2014 at 9:34 PM

What will Jazz wonder next? “Golly, Comcast could probably charge people even more money for cable. Where else will they go?”

davemason2k on June 8, 2014 at 9:41 PM

We don’t know what Netflix’s viewership ratings are. Netflix keeps a tight lip on it. For all we know, this method of release could be driving people to Netflix in the millions.

ZachV on June 8, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Why in the world would you want to wait a week for a new episode of a show you enjoy? Binge watching is a great option, don’t knock it.

changer1701 on June 8, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Binge watching is no different than “binge reading” when you are reading a book and devour chapter after chapter. Nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with giving the viewer the freedom to do that.

I watch TV in different ways. With “Orange”, I binge watch, getting as many episodes in as I can. I’ve done that with past series on DVD’s as well. When I watched “House of Cards”, it was one episode per night. The two shows I watch that come out weekly are “Mad Men” and “The Americans”, mainly because I started on both before I subscribed to Netflix and cut the cord. But even with those, I buy a season pass from the iTunes store and don’t have to watch any commercials.

It’s all about the freedom to choose how you want to watch, and I am very thankful of services like Netflix that give me that choice.

thirteen28 on June 8, 2014 at 10:49 PM

This works a whole lot better if you hear the article in a Mister Magoo voice. And picture Mister Magoo shaking his fist at the end of every paragraph.

DarthBrooks on June 8, 2014 at 11:30 PM

It does kind of seem like shooting your wad all at once. But what can you do? Technology is outpacing the ability to provide content. Simple as that.

After numerous recommendations, I finally checked out Breaking Bad on Netlfix. Watched all five seasons in about three days. Oh well.

OT — really liked OitNB season 1. But so far season 2 is lame. Piper seems to have become a background character. She was the only reason to watch. Her character is what made the show interesting. Without her, all you have is run-of-the-mill convicts. Convicts, generally speaking, aren’t very interesting.

WhatSlushfund on June 9, 2014 at 5:14 AM

I prefer this model. You don’t need to watch them all at once, you know… you can watch one or two now and again. And yeah, you’ll be done with a season much faster then a network release. But who cares? You just move on to something else. Which means you can consume more content which is good for content providers.

The day may come when the majority of content on netflix is produced BY netflix. That that becomes the point.

The old network model is trash. I won’t miss it.

Karmashock on June 9, 2014 at 6:58 AM

The only reason I have Netflix is because I can watch whole seasons at a time. I have no idea what night anything is on, nor do I want to. This is why people use heir DVRs, and having whole seasons on Netflix means I can watch it at my convenience. Are you suggesting that they remove previous episodes once the current one is shown too? Hulu used to do this and I cancelled it because I want to watch TV on my schedule. Netflix, don’t change a thing.

lea on June 9, 2014 at 7:42 AM

Netflix’s horrible binge watching content distribution model

I watched four episodes on Saturday in between taking care of other tasks.

Jazz Shaw’s “horrible binge watching.”

*shudder*
To think, I also used to be that chained to the TV…in my teen years.

It’s much better to live adventure, comedy, & action than to watch others pretend to live it.

itsnotaboutme on June 9, 2014 at 7:57 AM

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