It may be arriving on the binge scene a little late, but at least Amazon made it to the party, right?
Amazon is set to finally delve into binge-watching territory with its original content this fall via Transparent, a dark comedy starring Jeffrey Tambor that rose to the top of a bundle of pilots debuted earlier this year, and received the go-ahead for a full-season order. Now the online retailer’s TV studio division says it’s preparing to release all 10 episodes of the series’ first season at once through the Instant Video service, sometime this September. The news came over the weekend via an announcement by the show’s creator, Jill Soloway, according to a report from Variety.
Binge-watching may be seriously bad for your health, but it looks like the hedonistic exercise in video excess is here to stay as a preferred method of television digestion. A study published at the end of last year found that 61 percent of US adults now “binge-watch” shows at least once a week, and, when tracing this lethargic behavior’s brief history, one begins to see a correlation with Netflix’s recent trajectory of success.
Just over two years ago, Netflix adjusted its tactics to focus on creating original content, and set a course to capitalize on the growing mania surrounding “binge-watching.” As a result, the world of television experienced a paradigm shift. In February 2012, Netflix quietly slipped the first season of its debut original series, Lilyhammer, into its Watch Instantly catalog – in all of its eight-episode entirety. Although it wasn’t the smash success that House of Cards went on to become, the move can now be seen as a distinct turning point in the shift away from the standard method of staggered releases.
At that time, the online streaming landscape was quite a bit fuzzier. Netflix was coming off an unfortunate string of messy PR moves (see “Qwikster” and “price hike”) and had begun patching up the damage dealt by its stock market freefall. Verizon and Redbox were on the cusp of dropping their own streaming services, and rumors swirled around the potential expansion of Amazon’s Instant Video. In short, the future was a bit dim for big red.
But Netflix’s bet on the binge paid off. Later that year, House of Cards was being rabidly consumed in marathon sessions, and also gaining critical success, netting the service its first Emmy. With support from Netflix’s other prosperous originals like Orange is the New Black, and the 4th season of Arrested development, Netflix established itself as the premiere service for Web-based franchises. This year, the critical success continued, as Netflix pulled in a historic 31 Emmy nominations for its original programming.
Such resounding success has no doubt been the source of a lot of round table discussions from Netflix’s main competitors, Hulu and Amazon. “Better late than never” is the saying one could apply to the situation that Amazon now finds itself in. The service is hoping to garner broader audiences when Transparent hits the web in its entirety this Fall. But with Netflix’s blooming dominance, is it too late to catch up?