This weekend I marathoned House of Cards, Netflix’s new series about power and politics in DC. I enjoyed the show (especially all the wheeling and dealing) but grew to hate all the characters by the end of the season.
I won’t talk much more about the show (no spoilers) but I really liked the format. Netflix released the thirteen episodes all at once. The season were definitely crafted for binge consumption - highly serialized with episodes often continuing seconds after the previous one ended. I tend to consume most of my TV in marathon sessions and I appreciated being able to watch it all in quick succession.
Fast Company had an interesting an interesting article in which they call the format anti-social because it’s really hard to talk about it with friends who may each be at different parts of the series. This doesn’t happen as much with a show that’s strung out across many weeks; there’s more time to catch up. See more commentary on that at NYTimes. I definitely feel that, as I’m the first of my friends to finish…
Despite the spoiler difficulties, I really like the format. It’ll be interesting to see how it impacts Netflix subscriptions. My guess is that they’ll see a nice spike in sign-ups followed by higher then usual churn. If they can keep a regular flow of great, original content, they’ll probably win over many loyal users. It’ll be interesting to see if that leads them to even shorter seasons with more frequent releases. This could look like eight episode seasons / miniseries released every four months.