The practice of releasing all episodes of a season at once, the so-called binge release, was pioneered by Netflix and is often credited as one of the main innovations that drove the company to become the top streaming platform years ago. It’s believed that providing the opportunity for fans to immerse themselves in a show and the removal of the wait time between episodes made the experience more enjoyable for the audience. In its last shareholder letter, Netflix even said: “It’s hard to imagine, for example, how a Korean title like ‘Squid Game’ would have become a mega hit globally without the momentum that came from people being able to binge it. We believe the ability for our members to immerse themselves in a story from start to finish increases their enjoyment but also their likelihood to tell their friends, which then means more people watch, join and stay with Netflix.”
That statement seems to reinforce Netflix's commitment to the binge-release strategy, after some speculation that the platform may have been considering adjusting its distribution for originals. Other platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ rely on a weekly release strategy to keep audiences and social media engagement with a show over an extended period of time.
Over the last years, the number of binge-released titles among the 50 most successful streaming releases has been falling, along with its demand share. In 2019, 72.0% of the top 50 shows released that year had a binge release, and they were responsible for 64.4% of the total demand for the top 50 new titles. These shares have dropped to 62.0% of the number of shows and 57.5% of the demand in 2020. The year 2021 marked a turning point. More shows in the top 50 had a periodic release than a binge release that year for the first time in many years.
So far in 2022, only 9 of the top 50 new streaming originals were binge-released. Although most of these shows were Netflix originals, they are not the only ones to be binge-released. Two Amazon Prime Video productions, Reacher and The Terminal List, also made the Top 50 ranking. Binge-released shows made up only 13.8% of the demand share for the top 50 new releases that year.
It may be the case that the drop in the share of binge-release series among the top streaming originals reflects the lower number of Netflix productions in that ranking. In 2022, Netflix releases have been losing ground to highly in-demand shows from its competitors like HBO Max, Disney+, and Paramount+. These three platforms dominated the ranking of the most in-demand new shows of 2022 as they account for the top 6 new releases of the year.
The most in-demand title released in 2022 so far is HBO Max’s Our Flag Means Death, with 29.9 times more demand than the average show over the year. Another very successful series from the same platform is Peacemaker, which belongs to the popular DC franchise. In fact, half of the shows that comprise the top 10 ranking were part of a franchise.
Besides Peacemaker, all top Disney+ releases of the year — Moon Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, as well as Paramount+'s top show Star Trek: Strange New World — are part of a well-established franchise. Netflix, on the other hand, only has one show on the top 10 list (The Sandman). Netflix's most successful release of the year so far, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, is still too recent to qualify among the top new releases of the entire year.
The Sandman was also the only show among the 10 most in-demand titles released in 2022 that was binge-released. All the other shows on that list followed either a weekly released or a batched release in which a handful of episodes were released at a time, but not the entire season. Other than The Sandman, the most in-demand binge-released new show from 2022 was Amazon Prime Video's Reacher, with 12.56 times more demand than the average title year to date, which makes it the 12th most in-demand title released that year.