Not only did Netflix forego a prime opportunity to try out weekly episode releases with Stranger Things‘ long-awaited and extra-beefy fourth season, but the supernatural hit’s landmark farewell run will be a binge drop as well.
TVLine recently contended that Stranger Things 4 would have been a perfect test case for releasing episodes weekly — in part because whereas the series rarely had an episode exceed 60 minutes in length, the first seven episodes of Season 4 average 77 minutes, with Episode 7 running a full hour and 38 minutes. Whats more, this season’s final two episodes (premiering Friday, July 1) respectively run 85 minutes and… two hours and 19 minutes. Longer than either Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or Top Gun: Maverick.
Yet binge releases (in whole or split “volumes”) remains Netflix’s modus operandi.
“For the fans of Stranger Things, this is how they’ve been watching that show, and I think to change that on them would be disappointing,” Peter Friedlander, Netflix’s head of scripted series for U.S. and Canada, said Tuesday at an industry event moderated by our sister site Variety. “To not give them exactly what they’ve been expecting … would be an abrupt change for the member.”
Friedlander also indicated that perhaps no scripted Netflix original will ever experiment with weekly releases.
“We fundamentally believe that we want to give our members the choice in how they view,” he said, and binge drops allow the option to watch as many or as few episodes as a person desires in a sitting. “[G]iving them that option on these scripted series to watch as much as they want to watch when they watch it, is still fundamental to what we want to provide.
That said, there will be instances — such as with Stranger Things 4, Ozark‘s farewell run and the “saved” Manifest‘s upcoming final season — where full seasons will be released in two “volumes,” if only to get some product out to consumers more quickly instead of waiting for post-production to be completed on everything.
As Friedlander explained, “when you see something like a batched season with Stranger Things, this is our attempt at making sure we can get shows out quicker to the members.”