Amazon is set to begin airing the John Goodman-starring comedy Alpha House on Nov. 15 followed by the Silicon Valley-set Betas on Nov. 22, and each show will have three episodes available for all viewers (not just Amazon Prime members) on that first day. But anyone, including Prime subscribers, wishing to watch the rest of the episodes will have to pace themselves as Amazon doles out one new episode a week after launch.
Given that the whole “having to wait a week” thing is viewed as a negative by a growing number of streaming video users, it’s a bit of a surprise that a forward-thinking company like Amazon would choose to go with the old-school model of weekly releases.
In a statement, Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios, explains that the reason for the gap between new episodes is “so that customers can chat about the shows and build up anticipation. We’re constantly experimenting and trying new things—and we’re eager to hear customers’ feedback on this model.”
Our guess is that many people won’t even come to these shows until after they are at least several weeks into their release, which may make the lack of binge-ability even more apparent. If someone can watch five or six episodes in one sitting, it can be a huge disappointment to be told you now need to get used to a weekly release schedule.
The ability to binge-watch has had a huge impact on currently airing TV shows, as it allows viewers to catch up quickly with a long-running show in order to hit the ground running when a new season or a series finale airs (just ask all the people who watched 50+ episodes of Breaking Bad in the lead up to the final shows). We’re not sure Amazon has made the right call in choosing to withhold new shows from an online audience that is used to watching serialized TV at their own pace.
We could see if Amazon made non-Prime members wait a week before being able to purchase a new episode, but to make Prime members wait the same amount of time may make some wonder if they are getting a good deal for their annual subscription fee.