If you’re a die-hard HBO fan, you’re probably still mourning the end of The Last of Us season 1. The chilling but heartwarming drama kept fans on their toes for almost two months as everyone debated together how the series would end and whether it would stay true to the video game.
It’s hard to imagine that the adventures of Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie would have taken the same course if the streaming service had released all nine episodes in one fell swoop. Still, many of HBO’s competitors have found success with this binge-watching model over the past decade, not least Netflix.
The world’s most famous streaming TV service has helped revolutionize the way people consume content. Some fans love the thrill of devouring an entire TV season in one evening, as it might seem like watching a super-long movie. Recently, however, there has clearly been an inversion of this model. Not only does HBO Max release weekly, but other streaming platforms like Hulu, Disney+, and Paramount+ all have patterned schedules for their programming. Does this mean the binge-watching model is dead? Let’s discuss this further!
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Why Did Binge-Watching Take Over the 2010s?
Television has always been about making a profit, just like any other business venture in a capitalist society. Netflix and HBO Max aren’t in the market to cater to consumers unless it’s financially beneficial to them. With that in mind, Netflix pioneered binge-watching by releasing its shows all at once, and the streaming service did so because it was making a ton of hard cash. Subscribers bought bundles with Netflix to catch up on all their favorites and classics at once, and it still allowed flexibility for certain demographics who couldn’t watch weekly TV.
According to Francis Perdue, founder of Scooter P Entertainment, the binge model opened up TV options for people not typically invested in regular programming. That feeling still prevails for companies like Netflix in 2023. “Binge-watching for busy professionals, business owners, and even teenagers helps them keep up with trends, news, and new seasons of shows that are actually releasing on a weekly television schedule for new episodes of new seasons,” Perdue said.
Streaming services like Netflix make huge profits from binge-watching because it’s addictive. Consuming one series leads to the adoption of another and yet another. Netflix is leading its customers down a rabbit hole of options due to the sheer volume of content and the accessibility of the shows available to them. After indulging in sci-fi perfection stranger thingsviewers receive suggestions for similar shows that help Netflix gain loyalty and attention from its customers.
Perdue explained, “It’s all about the subscription tier or package that the customer is on. That’s where the revenue comes from, and when customers binge watch, it gives them the opportunity to promote more options for shows, and also allows for ads to be viewed.”
So, if there are so many pros out there about binge-watching, why is it trending backwards? The tried-and-true method of tuning in at the same time every week, anticipating the next episode of a show for seven days in between, must have some merit.
How was the weekly publication revived?
Weekly releases from TV have been the standard since the days of i love lucy and Gilligan’s island. Tune in to ABC on Wednesdays at 8pm Abbott Elementary School or Sunday nights on HBO for successor remains a pinnacle of the television experience, and channels like this have never strayed from that style of storytelling. Even as Netflix changed the game, old-fashioned release schedules lingered in certain areas of television because they’re beneficial to profits in many ways. This explains why so many other networks and streamers have started going back to this model.
“Binge-watching isn’t the optimal profit model,” says Scott Lieberman, founder of TouchdownMoney.com. “The reason is simple. Customers can watch all episodes of their favorite show and then simply cancel. There really is no penalty. Just log in again if there is another show you want to watch on the service.”
“Mintel survey data found that nearly 20% of HBO customers would cancel the service if their favorite series stopped producing new episodes. Knowing they’re relying on the blockbuster TV show model (such as The sopranos And game of Thrones), HBO will milk a hit for its full worth.”
It’s easy to see how the weekly model has recaptured the hearts of people worldwide. Like the above shows The last of us And The sopranos would have lost much of their brilliance if observed in session. These are literary masterpieces that tell a long story. The characters and the setting should be absorbed in a meaningful and patient way. Episodes get lost in the mixer when people binge.
The poignant LGBTQ+ story told in the third installment of The last of us would have been overshadowed by the bombastic season finale in a Binged setting. The last season of successor would be over if there was Netflix instead of HBO. The anticipation and discussion surrounding TV as it releases every week is undoubtedly a good thing for streamers who choose to go down this route. People are being forced to keep their subscriptions longer, and social media sites like Twitter and Reddit are being inundated with fan theories and analysis, bringing more viewers to the party.
Where is streaming TV headed in the future?
After consulting our experts and using personal preferences to explore the field, it feels that streaming TV will be a potpourri of options to choose from for years to come. Netflix still boasts about the number of its subscribers and the minutes of content consumed by its original programming and the classics it acquired. On the other hand, HBO Max and Disney+ ride high on the back of their phased releases week after week. Both models are financially viable, but expect the OG brand of television to win this tug-of-war sometime in the next decade.
“The [weekly watching] is also the reason why live sports programs are so profitable. It’s binge-proof. People want to watch in real time,” adds Lieberman. “So the New York Yankees bought back their YES Network for $3.47 billion.”
Television is the world’s most captivating entertainment medium. Staying true to its roots is why it will continue to fascinate and delight people from all walks of life for the foreseeable future.