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Netflix doesn’t want you to binge watch its shows anymore

Streaming our favourites series may never be the same again

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Everyone loves the ‘just one more…’-ness of allowing a Netflix series to drift serenely from one episode and into the next, even as the clock ticks by and bedtime comes and goes.

But that binge model may be coming to an end. A new piece by tech insider website Puck suggests that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is reacting to a downturn in the streamer’s financial fortunes by examining its all-at-once model for releasing new series.

‘Hastings has seemed unwilling to pivot off the binge model because he hasn’t needed to,’ notes Puck. ‘Now, it appears, he does.’

In short, our days stuck to the sofa powering through a whole season of Bridgerton in one go could be drawing to a close. 

As Stranger Things and Ozark fans will testify, Netflix has already been experimenting with new ways of releasing its shows. Recent series of the two shows have been launched in two instalments.

Ultimately, the name of the game is to stop subscribers bingeing their favourite shows and then cancelling. A weekly drop – the model favoured by HBO with House of the Dragon and Amazon with its new Lord of the Rings epic – has the obvious advantage of keeping viewers plugged in for longer. 

A drop in Netflix’s stock price and subscriber numbers this year has already had Hasting’s fellow exec Ted Sarandos announcing a new subscription tier with ads on it for viewers who want to pay a lower monthly fee.

‘We’re adding an ad tier for folks who say, “Hey, I want a lower price and I’ll watch ads,”’ Sarandos told the Cannes Lions advertising conference.

According to the Liverpool Echo, industry analyst Bob Lefsetz is predicting that this big shift in Netflix’s streaming model could backfire. ’This is how the music business got in trouble: by ignoring its customers in search of an ever-growing bottom line,’ he says. ’In the digital world, in the internet world, you give the people what they want or you die.’

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