How streaming platforms should release original programming -- allowing viewers to binge all at once or parceling episodes out on a TV-like weekly basis -- has become a significant strategy question as competition intensifies.
Amazon said Monday that it will do a little of both for a pair of original series coming to its Amazon Prime platform this month. The company will distribute the first three episodes of each at one time, then revert to a weekly schedule for the remainder of the shows' 11-episode seasons.
"We will release three episodes upfront for all customers so they can try out the shows and get to know the characters," said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, in a statement. "Then we will release new episodes via Prime Instant Video week by week so that customers can chat about the shows and build up anticipation. We're constantly experimenting and trying new things -- and we're eager to hear customers' feedback on this model."
The first three episodes of each will be available free for anyone to watch through Amazon Instant Video, encouraging sampling not just of the shows but of the subscription-only Prime service. After the first three episodes, new installments will come weekly, but only for Prime Instant Video customers.
Netflix has been releasing full seasons of its originals like "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black" all at once, while Hulu has chosen to parcel out episodes weekly. Now even TV networks are also beginning to experimenting with enabling binge viewing online.
MTV and the Disney Channel are each making an upcoming show available on their apps for viewers to binge-watch ahead of their premieres on the networks. The companies say they are testing the strategy to see whether it can help ultimately attract more viewers on TV.