As the major subscription streaming services grapple with their first recessionary economies, one of the dynamics that’s being closely watched is Neflix’s “binge” release model.
Will Netflix stop swimming against the SVOD industry tide and staggering its original series like its competitors, most of whom release new single episodes weekly?
There’s reason to believe that I’ve hybridized Netflix’s recent approach with Season 4 of ozark and stranger things could be how the still hugely popular #1 SVOD service is approaching its future distribution strategy.
Reelgood offers a mobile app that allows users to find out where to stream a particular show. The startup claims to arbitrate the streaming decisions of 5 million users.
We didn’t typically find Reelgood’s weekly row rankings that useful based on his recommendations. For example, the startup ranked Hulu’s The old man #1 in total US viewership for the week of June 16-22.
We are captivated by the spy thriller starring Jeff Bridges opposite John Lithgow. But we can’t believe more people streamed it than Netflix stranger things, which was the top show on a platform with over 30 million other customers that same week, a massive hit series that didn’t even appear in Reelgood’s top 10 ranking.
Still, Reelgood’s rankings provide a good indicator of what consumers are looking for at any given time.
Take this chart for example:
Reelgood’s chart shows that from January 1st through May 15th, the Paramount was a global hit yellowstone, provided as a US SVOD exclusively for NBCU’s Peacock in what is arguably the short-sighted distribution deal of the century, was perhaps the most searched series on Reelgood. It ranked among the app’s 20 most-watched series for 18 consecutive weeks.
Perhaps streaming consumers, as confused as we were initially when we couldn’t find producer Taylor Sheridan’s surprise modern western sensation on Paramount Plus, turned to Reelgood in droves to make tracks yellowstone Low?
As for Netflix’s binge model? We found this remarkable:
In the four and a half months covered in the chart, Shonda Rhimes had two mega hits on Netflix – the limited series hit invent Annaalong with the second season of Bridgeton. These shows generated some of Netflix’s largest viewership of all time. And they were undoubtedly viewed more than any other series to appear on Reelgoods charts, including yellowstone.
However, the duration of the engagement seems to be limited invent Anna Placed in the top 20 for reelgood searches for just five straight weeks and Bridgeton Appear only for four weeks in a row.
One could argue that people generally know where to find Netflix shows like Bridgetonand they don’t need a mobile app like Reelgood to find them like they would at, say, a show with a convoluted corporate release strategy yellowstone.
But here’s what we find interesting:
ozarkanother well-known and popular Netflix original series, but not nearly as big as BridgetonReelgood stayed in the public consciousness for almost twice as long as the period drama created by Rhimes – seven straight weeks.
In particular, while Netflix released all episodes of the second season of Bridgeton On March 25, the fourth season of 14 episodes was split ozark in two, seven installments on January 21st and the last seven on April 29th.
Reelgood’s chart’s timeline doesn’t account for season 4 of stranger thingswhich was also released in two phases – seven episodes on May 27th and the final two super-big episodes on July 1st.
But as the more than 300 million streaming hours (according to Netflix) of the show consumed last week clearly shows, user engagement is in stranger things hasn’t diminished much in over a month.
Netflix, which is struggling to defend a long-held dogma, including its all-at-on-release strategy amid a suddenly sour and thoughtful investor climate, doesn’t seem ready to give up on the binge right away.
“Basically, we believe that we want to give our members the choice they see,” Peter Friedlander said at a Hollywood event in June.
But logic dictates that in a more scrutinized era, Netflix is looking to increase the engagement impact of each of the $17 billion it’s spending on content this year. It stands to reason that we may see more shows released in a pattern similar to ozark and stranger thingsthat seem to satisfy the stormy needs of customers while delivering the sustained “platform engagement” demanded by the business model.
“We’ve done some experiments in this area,” Friedlander admitted. “But it’s also that you’re offering multiple episodic viewing experiences, it’s not a standalone one. So it really honors what we think, our relationship with our members and what their expectations are.”