This week, Netflix announced that in the U.K., it will “air” episodes of AMC’s “Better Call Saul” the Tuesday after they air in the United States.
Sean Hargrave from MediaPost writes that it’s a move in the “war on linear TV.” I don’t know about all that, but it does sound weird when you say it, right? Hargrave thinks its a ploy to track membership and the draw of the AMC show and its own “House of Cards,” which is released the same week. He writes:
So are they trying an experiment here to look at patterns of what engenders more loyalty? Two big shows about to air. Arguably the biggest is being made available from launch while the second remains linear? Is the point to make it impossible to subscribe for a month and then ditch the service? Will they be looking at churn after the viewing of each series ends? Will the new “House of Cards” get those thinking of churning reengaged and then “Better Call Saul” will be there to prevent a February or March exodus.
But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Maybe the OTT planet and linear television planet can co-exist in the same universe. One doesn’t have to knock out the other. Just like traditional networks are adapting by throwing full episodes online or experimenting with their own subscription service, Netflix can hoard programs like the networks always have for its own purposes.
Sure, not as many people tune-in for appointment viewing, but a lot do. It’s the “Serial/Scandal” effect. We all admitted via Twitter that we enjoy the anticipation. The trend of the mini-series on TV, aired during the slow seasons and then packaged and consumed anywhere, is indicative of that, too.
There’s room in the culture and the market for both habits and Netflix should be commended for dabbling in a grey area.
On the other hand, it’s entirely unfair. American audiences have to wait far too long for “Downtown Abbey.” Can PBS and Netflix get on that, please?