Here’s Why Disney+ Says ‘No’ to Binge-Watching

The highly anticipated streaming service Disney+ is to be unveiled to the public in November 2019. Believed by many to be the Walt Disney Company’s answer to the internationally popular streaming service Netflix, the upcoming platform has one notable caveat; binge-watching will not be allowed.

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Indeed, Disney is abandoning the ‘one and done’ release model that Netflix pioneered and popularized with hit shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Bojack Horseman. Therefore, fans of Disney owned properties such as Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Star Wars‘ The Mandalorian will have to wait a week to discover the fates of their favorite characters. But why is Disney rejecting tradition and carving out a new path for digital entertainment? The answer is somewhat surprising but ultimately makes sense.

A common issue inherent to the Netflix model of viewing is related to spoilers. Since viewers can watch several months worth of content in a single afternoon, there is no incentive to tuning in next Thursday, as was commonplace for older generations. By forcing viewers to go without content for a predetermined amount of time, the chance of knowing which character is secretly related to another before someone else does is cut down substantially.

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Even Netflix is experimenting with utilizing the older approach. Programs such as The Great British Baking Show and Rhythm & Flow are among those which will be adhering to the spread-out release formula, starting this October. In Netflix’s case, the decision to revert back to a tried and true format may not be entirely related to competition, but instead to revive the ‘water cooler’ conversations of old. Television news website TVLine humorously described the issue recently.

“The conversation around any given show quite famously and demonstrably ends within weeks of the initial drop”, said the piece. “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!’” Without such problems as described, the ability to recount the previous night’s shocking turn of events increases and conversations last months, not weeks.

I personally have mixed thoughts related to the issue. Although I do see an issue with binging in regards to the inability to control content consumption, I also question if a third option can be enacted. Perhaps the content should initially be released on a progressive basis, only for it to all become available months after the hype has worn off. After all, should newcomers to now-classic series be forced to trudge along slowly while their friends are all caught up on the adventures of their favorite characters?

Yet I also see value in the return to the classic system. There is a sense of investment and interest that increases when one has to spend a week pondering about Walter White or Tyrion’s fate. So perhaps the rule should be that first-time viewers must utilize patience, but recent fans can revel quickly. Regardless, the world will cast its judgment on the system this November, when Disney+ releases itself to the world.

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