Why Cobra Kai and Bridgerton Have Changed Netflix Forever

Netflix will release the popular Cobra Kai in three parts, a fascinating development into the practice of binge-watching shows.

No comments Twitter Flipboard E-mail

Netflix recently announced that it would start experimenting with a new series release format when it debuts the new season of Cobra Kai this summer. This new release schedule for original productions makes two things very clear: First off, binge-watching is still very much alive. Secondly, Netflix appears to believe it’s not fully tapping into the potential of its most popular shows, and it wants to change that. The solution? Something in between.

Cobra Kai in three parts. Netflix will release the final season of Cobra Kai, the popular Karate Kid sequel and one of the platform’s first flagship shows, in a unique way. With a total of 15 episodes, the new series will be split into three parts with five episodes each. The first two parts of the sixth season will air on July 18 and November 28, respectively, while the series finale will premiere on an unknown date in 2025. In Netflix's view, this will prolong the conversation and anticipation around the final season.

Finding the best release format. This new formula could mean that Netflix is experimenting. Recently, it announced that other shows would follow the same format, such as the third season of Bridgerton. Last year, the sixth season of The Crown season 6 became the first to be released in two parts in Netflix history.

In The Crown's case, there was only a one-month wait between the premiere of parts one and two. However, the Cobra Kai experiment is more extreme, as there’ll be at least half a year between part one and part three of the final season.

Does binge-watching have its days counted? It’s unlikely that Netflix will completely abandon its binge-watching formula. At most, it may opt for split seasons, such as with the latest season of Cobra Kai. (Note: This is the first season of the show to have 15 episodes, making it longer than usual). Binge-watching is one of Netflix’s hallmarks, and viewers have become accustomed to watching entire seasons at their own pace.

Will the split-season formula work against the streaming platform? For context, according to some studies, the third season of The Witcher, which was released in two parts, suffered a 30% drop in viewership between parts one and two.

The problem with splitting seasons. While splitting season may seem easy enough, Netflix faces a significant problem. Not all shows are designed to be split into parts. Although Cobra Kai may been designed that way, many viewers complained when the fourth season of You was released in two parts because it was clear it hadn't been thought up that way. The split not only resulted in a cliffhanger that was not planned by the writers, but it also ruined the tension-building because of an unforeseen pause.

Holding the audience’s attention. When Netflix first introduced this split-season model with shows such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, social networks, the Internet, and word of mouth weren't as important in the streaming business as they are now. However, the way users consume content has evolved, shifting the focus from the number of viewers to the buzz a show can generate for weeks.

For instance, Disney+’s X-Men 97 wouldn't be as popular as it is now if its episodes weren't released weekly, which allowed fans to discuss and analyze them. This approach has given the audience time to grow and connect with the series.

Shows that take on a new life. Relatedly, many shows gain momentum over time. For example, Apple TV+’s Severance would’ve gone unnoticed if it had been broadcasted in the traditional Netflix style of releasing all episodes at once. However, as the weeks went by, word of mouth grew, and fans started discussing the show’s plot weekly twists.

It's possible that some Netflix shows that notably failed to succeed, such as 1899 or Archive 81, would’ve had a better reception if they had been allowed to grow episode by episode instead of being released all at once.

Image | Netflix

Home o Index