Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I love a good Netflix binge as much as the next popcorn munching, content devourer and there’s no real right or wrong way to release a TV show for audiences. But as good as that model has been, TV shows arguably stand to benefit more on a weekly release model than the one-time dump.
Now the one thing that the Netflix binging model has got going for it is the lack of waiting between episodes. Sometimes the weekly wait between TV show installments can be too much and the one-and-done model gets rid of any waiting.
However, this carries the double-edged sword of losing fanfare incredibly quickly. There’s a lot of build-up for popular TV shows like Stranger Things and The Crown, but almost all of the buzz disappears once the latest season has dropped.
By contrast, TV shows on a weekly release schedule feel like more of an event. You’ve spent an entire week dissecting, discussing and chatting about what unfolded, there’s more time for people to cobble together well thought out think pieces, and you’re more confident in knowing that everyone else is at roughly the same point of the show as opposed to something on Netflix.
Had something like Watchmen or The Mandalorian been released all at once, it’s more than likely that those shows would’ve dropped off the radar as opposed to remaining in the conversation every week.
Put it another way, it’s unlikely Baby Yoda and all those associated memes would’ve had such a large impact had we got all the Mandalorian episodes at once.
But arguably the biggest benefit of the weekly release model is how it helps the longevity of a show. There’s a lot of hype between seasons of Stranger Things, but this would be amplified by many times if it were a weekly show due to the culmination of the week-by-week anticipation.
It’s one of the reasons why TV shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones felt so big when they were still going and remain in the pop-culture sphere, and why The Mandalorian and Watchmen are shaping up to be the same as opposed to a lot of what’s on Netflix. They give us just enough to keep us wanting but not so much that we’re overwhelmed.
With both the weekly release and binging models having their respective pros and cons, perhaps this could give rise to some sort of in-between model where a couple of episodes of a TV show is released weekly. Binging a show is great and all, but sometimes a slower pace is better.