No Binge-Watching Amazon’s New Original Shows

Alpha House will be the first original show on Amazon  Prime, but unlike Netflix's original shows, you won't be able to watch the entire season in one weekend with the shades pulled down and the phone turned off.

Alpha House will be the first original show on Amazon Prime, but unlike Netflix’s original shows, you won’t be able to watch the entire season in one weekend with the shades pulled down and the phone turned off.

Many a Netflix subscriber has lost a weekend to binges of the streaming service’s original shows like House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, and the fourth season of Arrested Development, and Amazon Prime users have certainly done this with many of the TV shows available included in its streaming library. But for some reason, Amazon won’t be feeding this binge impulse when it launches its first slate of original programming later this month.

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.

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  1. Draccy says:

    I wonder how many people will wait until a season is complete, then binge watch it? Problem is, then when it comes time to measure ratings — how many people are streaming this original programming — it’s going to really ding their numbers while the shows are still being doled out week by week.

    • theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

      me! me!
      i’ve become a binge watcher since cutting the cord. when a show is available a week at a time, unless hulu plus reminds me that it’s in my queue, i tend to forget about it. then either i miss episodes if they get taken down and i stop watching it until it’s 100% complete and available, or i just don’t start watching it until it’s all there after the end of the season.
      as far as i know, as an amazon prime member, i’ve never seen a reminder option from amazon to tell me that an episode of something i watch is available.

      • MaraJade says:

        I would love it if Amazon Instant Video had a reminder like Hulu does. It’s not really a big deal for Netflix, since all of their stuff comes out in chunks.

    • MaraJade says:

      I will totally binge watch shows, and I often do. Just recently (with the start of the fall television season), I have been watching the new show The Blacklist, and I cannot even tell you how much it annoys me that I have to wait a week between episodes. Just tell me what happens already!!

  2. MichaelA says:

    Netflix really threw down the gauntlet with posting the whole season at once. It felt like it was the “new Internet-y way of doing things”, and it is surprising to see Amazon adopting the entrenched, ancient way of doing things.

  3. JGandB says:

    I’ll come clean, I’m a binge watcher…Amazon did this with “Under the Dome” and I waited till the entir e series was up to watch it. I’ll more than likely do the same with these two shows even though I’ve been eagerly anticipating the return of Alpha House after the one episode teaser preview. FWIW, I’m an Amazon Prime member and a Netflix subscriber.

  4. JoeBlow says:

    Personally, I do like to keep up with some shows as they air, especially if they’re likely to have spoilers shoved down my throat. That being said, if I do get behind, or pick up a new series after a few seasons are out, I will certainly marathon them. Series like The Walking Dead, I try to watch live, or slightly delayed, or the next evening at the latest. A lot of the other stuff I watch is simulcast anime streamed on crunchyroll, so while there are a few series that I watch on their release dates, if I fall behind in series I’m not 100% behind, I can end up several episodes behind without worrying about seeing spoilers on gawker or io9.

    I don’t see a problem with Amazon releasing one episode per week in general, it may be a wise decision for them simply based on the fact that a lengthened release schedule keeps a series fresh in the mind. No matter how good it is, if they release all of the episodes at once, and the internet hashes out all of it’s reviews within 2 weeks of their release, the series may very well proceed to get zero press until it gets a second hypothetical season. If it’s stretched out over a few months, a potential viewer may see a headline for an episode farther down the line than those first two weeks, and may start watching despite not having “gotten in on the ground floor” in the first few weeks of release. Also, in some cases, the anticipation of the next episode can be a good experience when a cliffhanger is done just right. I remember binge-watching a series I had watched weekly with a friend. One episode ended on a rather dramatic note, and he immediately played the next episode. I commented “yeah, back when that was airing, we had to wait a week before finding out if that guy lived.”

  5. SingleMaltGeek says:

    Yeah, I won’t even give this show a look until a bunch of episodes are available, *then* I’ll decide if I want to watch it or not.

  6. OliverPickles says:

    I’m currently binge-watching Scandal, thanks Netflix! As an Amazon prime member I haven’t been too impressed with their offerings but I haven’t looked into them too deeply. I think they are doing themselves a disservice by not offering a whole season at once. Amazon doesn’t make too many mistakes, but I think this is a big one.
    And I’m so glad comments are back :)

    OP

  7. FitsOneHead says:

    What is Amazon, my Mother? Who cares if I binge on 100 episodes of whatever.? The big laffer here would be if Alpha House sucks, then who is going to watch?! The Amazon execs are correct in that customers will definitely chat, tweet, blog about the shows…esp if the show is bad. Ha, now Amazon can dole out weeks & weeks of crappy shows with no harm to the gentle viewer. A win-win, eh?

  8. richardhuffman says:

    Yeah, good luck with that Amazon. Seriously I’m trying to think of what I DON’T watch binge anymore… maybe the last season of Breaking Bad.. and uh… yeah. Nothing else. Though I’m a prime member, I think I probably watch stuff on netflix by a 20 to 1 factor of amazon instant; so making it even harder for me to watch stuff is not a good choice.

  9. Mapache says:

    I’m a littel of both, there are a few shows I tried to watch as they come out Breaking bad or game of throne, and I used to watch Battle Star Galactica on Fridays religiously. On netflix I used to set up my own programming I would watch an episode of the A-team then one episode of McGyver and sinish with an episode of sliders. Then came the Binge Watcher I call wife and all my Sh@#t got throen out of whack. I have binge hose of cards, revenge, the office, it’s always sunny, and its pretty good.
    It would be nice if amazon changes their interface it’s so unorganized maybe throw a profile option while you are at it