Netflix Needs To Release Seasons One Episode Per Week

Netflix's season release plan, splitting seasons into two bing-able halves, results in shows being discussed and enjoyed for less time while making it hard for fans to avoid spoilers.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

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Stranger Things

Following the recent report that subscribers are fed up with how Netflix handles each season release, it’s time for us at Giant Freakin Robot to take a stand against the streaming giant. Netflix‘s decision to split seasons into multiple parts, then release each section all at once is the worst possible way to release streaming content. In a world with The Last of Us proving weekly releases can grow an audience, there is no excuse for the handling of You or Stranger Things.

In case you forgot, You Season 4 came out in February, with the first five episodes released simultaneously, culminating in a shocking cliffhanger, before forcing fans to wait one month for the second half of the season. This release structure lets fans binge-watch before suddenly being forced to stop at a pivotal moment and wait another month before binging again. While binging a new series made sense in the early days of original streaming content, other providers have returned to weekly releases, and it’s time that Netflix makes the switch.

Going weekly lets a series stay at the forefront of everyone’s minds, letting viewers spend a week discussing the shared viewing experience. Go back to the debut of Wandavision on Disney+ and how fan theories were everywhere on social media following each episode. The same happened with Loki, and it’s that shared viewing experience that the current Netflix season release plan is tossing aside.

This is a mistake, as the shared communal viewing experience is how Game of Thrones grew to be a cultural touchstone and how Loki set records for Disney. Everyone watching the same episode simultaneously is how television and cable have operated for generations; while streaming allows for binge-watching, it’s not always the answer. Serialized shows with plot twists and turns are at their best when the viewer can pause, let the latest shock sink in, and then move on the next week into the new status quo.

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Stranger Things Season 4

Stranger Things Season 4 was a huge hit for Netflix despite the lackluster season release, but imagine how much bigger it could have been if everyone saw “Running up the Hill” at the same time and not spread out? How about “Master of Puppets” later on in the season? Each of those moments would have dominated social media and office water coolers for a week instead of being tossed onto social media and confusing everyone that hadn’t watched that far into the season within the first few days.

This is the other reason why returning to a weekly release structure would benefit viewers: spoilers. Some people love spoilers, and some hate them, but if Netflix changes its season release schedule, it will become possible to avoid spoilers easily, compared to now, when it’s a game to avoid them on social media. How great would Stranger Things’ latest season have been without knowing about an upcoming awesome musical moment (or two)?

Penn Badgley in You

Imagine just starting to watch You now, after the huge twist at the end of the first half of Season 4 was revealed. It robs the moment of power and shock value and would have hit much harder if social media hadn’t already lit up about the moment. In today’s connected world, it doesn’t take long for every plot detail to reach every corner of the planet, but if episodes were released weekly, it would be much easier to go into a show blind.

The Netflix season release schedule needs to be changed to create communal viewing experiences and allow fans to easily avoid spoilers. Until the change is made, HBO, Paramount, Amazon, Disney+, and even Hulu will continue to make more of an impact with their weekly releases. If Netflix wants to start retaining subscribers and potentially gaining more, weekly releases will keep them coming back.

Given the numbers Netflix shared with investors over the past few years, retaining subscribers is likely the company’s most important reason for making a change. Here’s hoping that Stranger Things Season 5 will match The Last of Us, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Mandalorian in getting a weekly release.