By Luke Wathen
It seems that more and more people are cutting the cord with their cable providers in favor of using online streaming services. People are flocking to services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus while the days of simple cable subscriptions are slowly fading away.
This change in how viewers experience television comes with change in content production. On network television, viewers have become used to seeing new episodes of their favorite series on a single episode basis. Many shows premiere one episode a week during the season but there are naturally exceptions—soap operas and gameshows have been known to have a new episode every day.
Streaming media, on the other hand, foregoes this notion of single episode premieres in favor of releasing entire seasons at a time. Netflix has made this an industry staple, releasing anywhere from eight to 10 episodes of their original content at a time. Amazon Prime has also followed suit, releasing seasons of shows such as “Transparent” and “Hand of God” in their entirety.
This has led to a complete change in how viewers experience their favorite shows. While they were previously content to enjoy single episodes spread out over the span of a few weeks, viewers now prefer to watch an entire season within a much shorter span of time, a practice which many have dubbed “binging.”
Despite this new method of releasing content which has proven quite popular, Hulu Plus remains a notable holdout in adopting the full season release. Earlier this year, Hulu Plus released an eight-episode adaptation of the Stephen King book “11/22/63.” While reviewers praised the show itself, many were aggravated with how the series was released. Each of the eight episodes were released a week apart from one another.
While this may seem like a minor grievance, it speaks to Hulu Plus’s need to adapt to modern tastes. With the advent of binge culture, viewers want instant indulgence. Rather than wait for a resolution to the conflict they are invested in, they want it within hours of watching the first episode. In essence, viewers see television shows as movies, preferring to watch all of the content in one sitting rather than wait for its conclusion.
The streaming market is still in a somewhat fledgling state and Hulu Plus may still be able to unseat the mighty Netflix from its thrown of popularity. However, the only way they will be able to do that is by embracing the model of full season releases.