Netflix has tried for the past two years to break into the talk show format with weekly episodes but in our opinion, it’s not working. The platform was never designed for weekly episodes and Netflix should give up or give its platform a necessary overhaul to make it work.
Producing content isn’t easy. It’s expensive but it’s necessary for Netflix’s future there’s no denying it. Over the past several years, Netflix has built up its Netflix Original library at a rapid pace. Netflix recently reached 650 unique Netflix originals in the US and that doesn’t include international exclusives either. Their library spans from big-budget sci-fi, lowkey cooking competitions, and comedy sitcoms to standup specials and talk shows. The latter of those options hasn’t proved all that well for Netflix beyond their first episode. The reason? Netflix sucks at weekly content.
It’s Not A Content Issue
It’s worth noting at this point that I take no issue with any of the show’s quality. In fact, their weekly shows are fantastic. Explained by Vox is one of the best education shows of all time, making its information easy to understand and in bitesize watching chunks. Joel McHale’s clip show graciously converted from its old channel over to Netflix. In fact, it’s probably the best clip show ever produced but if you only watched the first episode, you’re not alone.
Michelle Wolf’s show is fantastic, it’s Netflix’s equivalent of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Chelsea Handler’s year-long talk show also produced some great moments too.
So What’s The Problem?
Netflix simply isn’t set up for a weekly show.
This problem doesn’t just affect Netflix though. Amazon suffers too but their user interface, particularly on a PC, is a nightmare. Hulu should be best equipped given it’s operated by content providers who have been producing content on a weekly basis
Let’s just use Explained as an example. I watched the first episode several weeks ago and now I’m several episodes behind. The only way I knew? I scrolled down, by chance, far enough to get to a section called “continue watching for Kasey.”
The problem affects all devices. The reason for this is that Netflix is set up for binging. If you start watching something and like it, you’ll keep watching because it’s front and center. On the flipside, if you don’t like something it’ll quickly get buried. The problem with the weekly format is that it gets buried too quickly. The rest of Netflix is set up for show discovery so don’t expect to get reminded there.
The Joel McHale Show Has Already Changed Its Release Schedule
The biggest casualty of this format has been The Joel McHale Show. Season 1 of the show released every Sunday, but for season 2 they’ve just ditched the weekly format and gone for a full second season. Is this because of dwindling numbers because of its weekly format? That’s something we’ll never find out, but its a great example of a show which will now do much better all in one go.
Most of Netflix’s series can opt for this format but for Chelsea Handler and Michelle Wolf, shows that rely on weekly conversation to stay relevant, it’s not a luxury they can take.
How Can Netflix Fix The Problem?
There are some obvious easy fixes here that Netflix could implement. The simplest would be offering the opportunity for viewers to ‘subscribe’ to the show at the end of the first episode. If you like it and subscribe whenever a new episode releases, your phone pings and takes you straight to the next episode. Simple.
Netflix could also change its ridiculously large originals banner and replace that with a ‘new episodes’ row. That row only fills up with shows that you’ve already started watching but gets a new episode.
For talk shows, there’s one additional way that Netflix isn’t currently taking full advantage of. Going viral. Last Week Tonight is a great example of a show that probably performs better outside of its original timeslot because of its presence on social platforms. If Netflix were to publish large segments of its shows on the likes of Facebook and Youtube, it’d serve as a reminder that a new episode is out. This method is being quickly adopted by every late night show and talk show and they all benefit from it.
For the sake of argument, just contrast a Youtube search for John Oliver and Michelle Wolf. Which show do you think has a better presence?
To conclude, Netflix should stop producing weekly content if it continues to go to waste. The streaming platform is producing some fantastic weekly content but because of its legacy design choices for the platform as a whole, it can’t adequately promote and keep you engaged with shows that release on a weekly format. That’s ultimately a shame as it’s produced and still continues to produce fantastic content that deserves to be watched.
What do you think? Do weekly shows get lost on your Netflix? Do you think Netflix should focus on traditional scripted shows? Let us know in the comments down below.