March 15, 2022
New data from Ampere Analysis contends binge-watching increases monthly subscriber churn (members not renewing service), which has resulted in newer SVODs such as Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+, Peacock and HBO Max returning to the old-school broadcast television norm of weekly episodic releases.
Binge viewing began with the TV DVD phenomenon of the early 2000s. Netflix lifted the concept so streamers had the option of consuming an entire season of TV episodes in one sitting. This release strategy has since been mimicked by Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
Rahul Patel, senior analyst at Ampere, believes the return to weekly releases had as much to do with upstart streaming services not having the library of original content that Netflix has. At launch, the Disney+ original content library was 90% smaller than Netflix’s, while HBO Max’s was 74% smaller and Apple TV+ more than 99% smaller.
Patel contends that’s why Disney+ released episodes of new Marvel Cinematic Universe TV shows across 34 weeks in 2021. Citing internal research, Patel found that Netflix’s practice of dumping a program’s entire season of episodes at launch led to 80% of the show’s viewers exiting the program after one month. By comparison, weekly episodes kept viewers engaged for four months.
“A weekly release pattern more easily facilitates conversation around a show,” Patel said in a statement. “Between episodes, viewers have ample time to discuss and re-watch episodes, which is less likely to be the case if an entire season is released together.”
The analyst also suggests that weekly releases can benefit lower profile titles — particularly those not based on recognizable intellectual property — as positive word of mouth sentiment has more time to build and spread.
“By releasing the totality of an unknown season in one stroke, a platform runs the risk of the title being crowded out in an increasingly competitive content market,” Patel said.