Why Won’t Disney Let People Binge-Watch Like Netflix Does?

Some observers think Disney+ could be a Netflix killer simply by existing. Disney may be new to the streaming game, but it has more than 90 years of content to draw upon. Now it seems Disney has figured out another way to upend Netflix: by actually curtailing binge-watching. 

And in a preview of just how intense the streaming wars are going to be, now comes the news that Netflix is doing some weekly releases too. While this may seem to go against the entire point of streaming, there is actually a good reason for it. 

Disney Plus
Disney Plus | Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Disney+ — no binging ‘The Mandalorian’ for you

Marvel/Star Wars fans were no doubt already making plans to pop multiple bags of popcorn and to pop multiple pills of No-Doz so they could watch all of The Mandalorian or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier all in one go.

Now the Mouse House has thrown cold water on those plans by announcing that episodes will roll out weekly, not all at once, according to TV Line. 

Fans had gotten used to binging after Netflix made all episodes of a season of House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black available at once. If an episode ended on a cliffhanger, you no longer had to wait a week or (gulp) months to find out what happened next. You just selected the next episode, and merrily we roll along.

Netflix eventually made this the default mode for their TV shows. 

This meant that young Netflix viewers could gloat to mom and dad, “Ha-ha, you guys had to wait months to find out who shot that JR guy. I get to find out if Eleven will be OK right now!”

Now Netflix wants to go back to the old way

Netflix is going weekly with some of its own shows, starting in October, including The Great British Baking Show and Rhythm & Flow. The idea is this actually increases the value of the shows by spreading the wealth, according to this Yahoo report.

Audiences have become particularly prickly about spoilers these days, and binge-watching has a lot to do with this. With everybody watching shows at a different pace, that meant that some viewers were further ahead than others. On social media, someone would reveal they watched a particular episode and somebody else would respond, “Dude! Spoiler!”

The new/old system of weekly shows would again put viewers on the same playing field. 

TV Line’s piece put it well by saying “The conversation around any given show quite famously and demonstrably ends within weeks of the initial drop. And whatever discussion you do find runs the risk of spoiling anyone who isn’t quite on the same page. ‘Hey, Vern, have you seen GLOW Season 3?’ ‘Sure did, Chantal! Crazy about how in the finale– ‘Shhh! I’m only on Episode 7, you wanker!'”

It should be noted that Netflix clarified that it is only doing this for some shows, not all. 

The streaming field is only going to get more crowded

A return to weekly episodes would be less taxing on people, considering that streaming options are only going to multiply. We already have Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu competing for our attention, along with smaller niche outlets like The Criterion Channel for classic and arthouse movies.

Now here comes a whole new crop from major players. In addition to Disney, Apple TV + will launch in November, while Warner Bros will roll out HBO Max next year.

Simply put, the human brain is not meant to process this many choices. Perhaps that’s why on a TV Line poll, a majority of people were in favor of the weekly model.

One commenter said, “I much prefer the weekly release. Anyone who really wants to binge and quit can wait until the season is complete and then sign up. I find the binge release model completely exhausting and (it) diminishes most cultural conversations around tv events.”