Streaming services are moving back to weekly episode releases. Picture: Alexander Heinl/dpa
Streaming services are moving back to weekly episode releases. Picture: Alexander Heinl/dpa

Is this the end of the binge-watch?

Disney+ will be doing things a little differently to its main rival, Netflix.

While Netflix has normalised binge-watching with its model of dropping every episode of its original series in one go, Disney+ will release episodes of its exclusive shows on a weekly basis.

Apple TV+, which is set to arrive in Australia by the end of the year, is also expected to take the same weekly release route.

Disney+ and Apple TV+'s decision to go the weekly route are two more streaming services that have positioned themselves against Netflix's binge model.

American streaming platforms Hulu and CBS All Access also premiere their original TV shows on a weekly basis while Amazon Prime Video primarily debuts all episodes of their new shows at once.

For Disney+ shows like Loki, a TV spin-off from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it will roll out over the course of six weeks.

It could be that there is a groundswell building against the binge model, or there could be another reason for Disney's decision.

The Verge reporter Julia Alexander suggested that the weekly roll-out is a strategic move for Disney, designed to keep subscribers paying for longer.

"The weekly release model is a smart move for Disney," Alexander wrote. "And potentially any new streaming service that's initially focused on building a subscriber base, rather than servicing a demanding, pre-existing one.

"Tying new content to beloved franchises, then doling it out a bit at a time is a way for Disney, in particular, to keep subscribers hooked.

"When Disney+ launches, people who want to watch all of Jon Favreau's Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, will need to keep their subscriptions active for at least a couple of months. "While cord-cutters routinely look for ways to dip in and out of new services, bingeing the content they care about, Disney is looking to keep its initial subscribers stable while adding more throughout the year."

She said the strategy was crucial for Disney to reach its estimated goal of about 10 million customers by the end of 2020.

Netflix, however, appears committed to its binge model.

When it has veered away from the dumping all episodes at once model, it's because those shows are not true Netflix originals, and are being rolled out weekly on broadcast TV in another country.

For example, comedy The Good Place drops new episodes in Australia on a weekly basis because it's a NBC series which is broadcast weekly on TV in the US. Similarly, The Great British Bake Off (retitled The Great British Baking Show in the US) is premiering new episodes weekly in the US because the series is originally a broadcast TV series on Channel 4 in the UK.

Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos previously explained the company's reason for why it chooses to drop everything at once.

"There's no reason to release it weekly," Sarandos told HitFlix. "The move away from appointment television is enormous. So why are you going to drag people back to something they're abandoning in huge numbers?"

Even then he said viewers were recording multiple episodes of a television series to watch them all at once.

He said it also meant people did not have to juggle multiple shows at once and could enjoy a whole series before moving on to the next one.

Do you enjoy binge watching series? Tell us what you love watching in the comments below.



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