Amazon has just announced when and how they're going to release episodes of two recently greenlit original comedies - Alpha House and Betas.
Alpha House will premiere on November 15th and Betas a week later on November 22nd. Amazon says that they will release the first three episodes of each at first - and they will be available for all to watch, for free, on Amazon Instant Video. After that, Amazon will stick to a weekly release strategy - debuting one episode every 7 days for Amazon Prime members only.
Of course, this strategy is much different from the one successfully employed by rival Netflix. With its original content, Netflix has taken a binge-friendly approach by releasing all episodes of any given season all at once - that's the way they've handled every major content release since Lilyhammer back in 2011.
This shouldn't come as a surprise, however, as we already knew that Amazon was planning on diverting from the trail blazed by Netflix. Sure, binge watching has its benefits – mainly the absolute lack of any sort of forced delayed gratification. But some argue that the immediate availability can be a buzzkill for shows by removing it from the pop culture eye after a few weeks. It appears that Amazon subscribes to this this latter view - at least for now. Amazon Studios director Roy Price even mentioned building up anticipation -
“Based on customers’ enthusiastic response to the pilot episodes we are counting down the days until we can share more of the political and entrepreneurial exploits of our Alpha House and Betas characters. Our goal is to make great TV shows that customers will love and we hope they’re going to love these shows,” he said. “We will release three episodes upfront for all customers so they can try out the shows and get to know the characters. Then we will release new episodes via Prime Instant Video week by week 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.”
Alpha House stars John Goodman and was written by Doonesbury‘s Garry Trudeau. It focuses on four U.S. Senators who live together in a rented house in Washington D.C. The show recently added some big names, too.
Betas "follows four friends as they attempt to strike it rich with a new mobile social networking app."
I guess user feedback on the release style will determine how Amazon moves forward. They have plenty of new shows on the way, including some greenlit children's shows and a couple of new dramas - one from X-Files creator Chris Carter. If people hate it, it wouldn't be too surprising if Amazon switched course and opted for a bulk release strategy. Amazon Studios has generally tried to involve the viewers at every turn - even the way they chose which pilots were turned into full series runs was largely based on user feedback.
Image via Amazon Studios, YouTube