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All At Once vs Week By Week


Methods of Release  

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Prompted by some of the discussion going on in the WandaVision thread.
 

The advent of streaming initially did away with the old rules of distribution, which were a result of old broadcast limitations. Personally I liked it. I like being able to watch a show at my own pace, the same as I'd read a novel. But recently we've seen a move back to the old style of one new episode a week making a comeback.

 

The main argument for it is that marketing bods believe that by drip-feeding episodes you make it more of an event by creating more discussion and theorising online. After all there aren't going to be threads full of speculation on who the mysterious baddie is when everyone's already watched the last episode after binge watching at the weekend.

 

On watching various recent shows that's become clear to me is that if platforms do want to go back to a week by week model, they should really tailor the writing for that. For example The Mandolorian had a weekly released and it didn't bother me due to how episodic it was, each episode felt like it's own satisfying adventure with a beginning, middle and end - even there were plot threads that spanned the season.

 

On the other hand I felt season 3 of The Boys (which switched from an all at once model) really suffered from its new style of release. The episodes still felt like they were designed to be binged, bleeding into each other and as a result sometimes felt unsatisfying in isolation.

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Personally I enjoyed that Season 2 of The Boys was weekly purely because (spoilers for the show):

 

Spoiler

I enjoyed how many people were awkwardly cooing over how "awesome" Stormfront was in earlier weeks and that had clearly not cottoned on to what her character was from her name alone.

 

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I think it genuinely depends on the nature of the show. I don't mind doing both. To take Wandavision as an example, I think all at once may help it due to the format and what's it's doing with the sitcom structure. 

 

However I think as more is revealed the weekly release may benefit it and prompt some good discussion and theorising about what's going on. 

 

Which reminds me. I have a theory to post in the thread 

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Definitely week-by-week for me. It’s not a hard and fast rule, I can see how some shows will benefit from binge watching. But I prefer spacing it out at regular intervals. I like the anticipation, the post-coital cool-down after a good episode, the way that your thoughts and feelings have a whole week to slosh around in your head.

 

I like the gradual discussion of each individual episode rather than the race to watch and report on the whole thing. The way that discussion gradually changes as the plot progresses and people adjust to the show.

 

It just gives time for stuff to sink in, to seep into your bones. To be part of your reality for a time in your life. As opposed to just something you did for a day or two.

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Week by week can just fuck off. I understand why people want to do it like that from both a marketing and a subscription point of view (a 10 week season released weekly encourages me to sub for two months and hopefully make it harder again to quit) but it's just not how I want to watch things. I want to watch maybe 2 or 3 and know I can watch the other when I want.

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Definetly all at once, I will always wait until these episodic releases are complete before starting to watch a series/new season. I will usually enjoy 2/3 episodes a day depending on the length and finish off a new season/series in a week. Only caveat is I will never watch any of these 20 episodes a season shows, I just do not have the time for the filler episodes. Six to Eight episodes is the perfect length for me.

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I think I prefer week by week. Stuff like The Mandalorian benefitted from weekly discussion of each episode. If they were all put up at once, most of the discussion would have been about the ending. 

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The whole idea that you'd shape your release schedule based on the health of discussion threads about it seems mad to me. Talking about the show is a far distant second to watching the show, surely?

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48 minutes ago, Uncle Mike said:

The whole idea that you'd shape your release schedule based on the health of discussion threads about it seems mad to me. Talking about the show is a far distant second to watching the show, surely?


Well you’d shape your schedule based on what gets you the most viewers right? Discussion threads, or the water cooler when we went to work, drive viewers. Maybe all at once fails to generate as much discussion that pulls people in.

 

Personally it depends on the show. For limited series stuff, say 3 to 6 episodes I want it all at once. I want to treat it like a long film consumed over one or two evenings. For longer series I don’t really mind either much, although your show has to be good enough to draw me back next week and something all at once needs to move fast enough and have enough variety so I don’t just phase out half way through.

 

The thing streaming seems to be missing is enough week by weeks to keep me occupied or engaged so I don’t have to spend half my time looking for what to watch. They’ve got lots of stuff and lots of stuff coming but they’ve settled on generally short seasons and very story arc driven. I sort of miss that US TV series thing of 24 episodes of stuff that’s broadly self contained weekly stories. Knowing that on Tuesdays I watch A and B, the Thursdays is C and Fridays have D and E. and that pattern basically being set from September to April.

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Preference is a bingefest, but if it’s something I’m really enjoying I guess I’m ok with week by week because I know I’ll go back to it. I did like knowing that at one point I had The Boys, or latterly Mando+Taskmaster, to watch on a Friday night. Less so Discovery ! If it’s something I’ve started and it’s not brilliant but I want to finish it I’m happier bingeing because I can get it out of the way.

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The physical boxset existed before streaming, so there was an option to watch at your own pace stuff and time that was considered popular enough to get a boxset release for decades.

 

I stopped watching real-time TV years ago, so artificial restrictions designed to keep people subscribed can GTFO.

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Is there a middle ground? Weekly does seem a bit old hat but all at once can be a bit overwhelming and the episodes tend to lose their individual identity. 

 

A two weekly, Friday and Tuesday release schedule would suit me fine. 

 

A spaced out approach does make you feel you can catch up on something if it is generating a lot of chat or buzz. You hear about a great new series, you can watch the first few episodes and then catch up with anyone else. All at once, by the time you've heard about it all all the episodes are out, people have moved on and spoilers become a problem. 

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Certain shows benefit from week by week I think. For example GOT all at once would have been rubbish, the conversation around it would have died out instantly. I loved coming into work or on here every week to talk about the show and theorising what comes next. Same for The Boys, Better Call Saul and.

 

Something like WandaVision feels like it coming all at once would be fine though. They're short episodes and I don't think you miss out on much of the conversation blasting through and discussing.

 

I guess maybe in short I think shows thats are 20min epsiodes would be fine, but 44-60hr episodes should be week by week. 

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20 hours ago, Uncle Mike said:

The whole idea that you'd shape your release schedule based on the health of discussion threads about it seems mad to me. Talking about the show is a far distant second to watching the show, surely?

 

The longer a show is talked about, the greater the chance someone who hasn't heard of it or isn't currently watching it gets sucked in just by hearing other people talk about it for 10 weeks.

 

With the Netflix model you largely only get one chance to be a hit or sink into obscurity after a week because discussion on the show tends to end so abruptly after launch. 

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34 minutes ago, Uncle Mike said:

I really needed to use a different word than "your" in that post. I get why Disney want to do it, I don't understand why it's something that viewers seem to want.

 

If you enjoy discussing a show a weekly roll out makes it easier. Star Trek Discovery is pretty shit but there was a good weekly discussion of each episode. If you just dump the whole lot, I think you tend to wait until you've seen it all before jumping into the thread to avoid spoilers. 

 

When shows drop all at once, there is often little discussion of specific episodes but more on the series as a whole. 

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I think Disney+ is pretty barren unless you want to watch Pixar and Marvel films repeatedly. They don't really have an option except to do weekly unless they want people like me to sign up for a month, watch all of the Mandalorian and then promptly cancel.

 

But yeah, I prefer having them all there. Sometimes I've got time to watch a good few episodes a week, sometimes I've got no time to watch any.

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My issue with it is that dropping a whole season at once can disguise the weaknesses within a series, season or concept. It allows tv series to follow the videogame defence of "oh just give 5/10/15/20hrs then it gets good" or "oh the story dips in the middle 5 hrs but then it gets good again".

 

It encourages long story arcs with slow development. This can be a good thing but also can encourage padding and self indulgent nonsense. I have watched series that drop in one and I watch them and certain episodes are just mostly empty fluff that could be excised. This will be an unpopular opinion but I felt Stranger Things fell into that trap very occasionally with too much filler and it revelled in it in Season 2. It can forgiven as if you watch an episode that is a bit meh it will likely get you to say "oh lets just watch the next one".  I gave up mid season 2 and I felt the idea was done and dusted and was just being stretched out.

 

Binging is an annoying but correct word as when you "binge" the quality can end up playing 2nd fiddle to the fact you are indulging yourself.

 

I think it can end up stretching concepts and stories beyond the point where it is viable. Less is more and week to week shows do not get the luxury of a binge - if you watch a dodgy episode you might think "ok I'll try again next week" do that two/three/four in a row and bang that is it done it slips off your radar.

 

So  I think single drop seasons suit some shows - usually weaker ones that need a "binge" watch to work. Week to week shows suit other shows expecially ones that can stand on their hr to hr strength.

 

EDIT - if it is a very good series and they use single drop it can end up not doing that series justice. If you digest 10 hrs of superb jampacked content over 2 days it will generally not work as well as being spread over a longer period. Our memories are not perfect so trying to digest such a large dense piece of work is likely to be tricky whereas you'd appreciate it more over a longer period. If you watched all 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers in a day you'd get less from it than if you took your time over it. You would just get fatigued and that is also a binge thing - binge is not positive. Allowing the consumer to choose is not always a positive :D

 

FInally finally I think that producers need to look at this stuff and realise there are other options that week to week OR single drop. Maybe two episodes a week or release in 3 episode clumps. There will be a strategy to fit any decent show and at the moment this sort of delivery is in its infancy.

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All at once is preferable to me. I have limited time to watch TV, and if I have a rare day to myself I'd like the option to watch it all at once. This drip feeding episodes is just a ploy to keep you subscribing over a 2 or 3 months for those that must watch the newest stuff straight away, rather than signing up for a month and watching all you want then cancelling . 

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I absolutely hate week by week releases, they feel like a relic of a world that doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t want the pace I’m watching something at to be decided by arbitrary release dates, I want to watch things at my pace. I’m much less likely to bother to keep watching things if there’s a week wait between episodes, it means I’m more likely to just not bother coming back, whereas when I can choose the pace I’ll stick with things to see how they go. I’m still planning to watch Mandalorian series 2 at some point but I was waiting for it all to be finished as I thought a lot of individual episodes in season 1 were boring and not worth waiting a week for. I’ll probably get round to it but a lot of the excitement about it has ebbed away now and I don’t know if or when I’ll bother, whereas I probably would have knocked the whole thing out in a day or two if it was all available at once. I feel the same about Wandavision.

 

I know people cancel and subscribe and they want to avoid that. But I keep my Netflix, Prime and Disney+ subscriptions because I’m always looking for more stuff to watch. I watch several hours of TV each night with my girlfriend, so are always looking for something to watch and are always half way through watching something. Weekly stuff needs to be absolutely exceptional to break through this. There’s only one weekly show we’re watching at the moment and we’re both substantially less likely to pick something that release that way. 

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Weekly is so much better for me, I'm not a fan of binging on a show I like to watch it and savour it looking forward to each episide. I don't usually have the time to sit and watch a load of episodes at once and I find I can't enjoy the discussion when everyone is at different places. 

 

Totally get the arguments for having the everything up at once and for some things it works. I wouldn't want to wait a week for something like Rust Valley Restorers as it's a chewing gum for the mind type show, but for something like Better Call Saul I look forward each week to the day of broadcast and after I enjoy the discussion on here and listen to the podcast to get more insight. I just wouldn't do that if it was all dumped at once. 

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I usually watch a series over two weeks. I'd class that as more spacing it out than binging. One episode per day with some days where i give it a break, then occasionally 2 in one day, like the last few episodes where i get really into it.

 

I've never watched 4 or 5 episodes in a day. I don't know how people don't get a little tired. My brother who actually came out and said a few weeks ago that he hates watching films, who will roll his eyes if you dare recommend something to him on Netflix, despite him having Netflix, not being able to go out, and his girlfriend loving watching stuff...well once he somehow does watch a show he'll rinse it in days. 3 series of The Last Kingdom in a few weeks. 8 episodes of 24 a night once.

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For things that are released all at once, why even bother with the episode structure.   Most things are padded to fuck these days.  I'd rather a series that has 8x 1 hour  episodes be condensed into 4x 1 and a half hour movies.

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Of the binary options I picked all at once, but we tend not to binge multiple episodes at a time, unless it's a massive cliffhanger or there's only one more episode left. For most dramas we like to watch an episode a night - so you have time for the previous one to sink in and let you think about it, but it's still fresh in your mind the next night when you carry on.

 

Although we've enjoyed the forced weekly schedule of things like the Mandalorian, and previously Game of Thrones - it makes each episode seem like an event when everyone is talking about the same thing. So perhaps I should have voted weekly after all.

 

Delayed gratification FTW!

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Drop it all at once would be my preference. But I can't think of a time I've watched a weekly drop show and been cross about having to wait.

 

Being an antisocial fucker, the idea of watching an episode a week so that I can discuss it with people doesn't do anything for me. And the 'binging' aspect doesn't bother me either. I'm perfectly capable of watching one or two episodes a day or a week, and that's often all I've got time for anyway. My wife and I have been watching Harlots together as our 'main' tv show, and I think we've watched three episodes since Christmas. That's about one a week, and we haven't been doing it because of any artificially imposed schedule (aside from life).

 

Having said that, I've watched four or five episodes of a show in a row before, occasionally. And that works just as well for me. I've read discussion threads about those shows where people have clearly missed details that I picked up on binge watches, so I don't really buy the argument that it's hard to take everything in (from a personal perspective. Obviously ymmv).

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