Why Netflix is Releasing More Shows as Split Seasons

Cobra Kai and Emily in Paris were just announced to be split into two or more parts and we suspect they won't be the last.

Kasey Moore What's on Netflix Avatar

Why Netflix Shows Are Getting Split Into Two Parts

Bridgerton season 3 – Picture: Netflix

As we hurtle towards the second half of the year, Netflix is slowly revealing some of its TV lineup. In the last two days, we’ve learned that Emily in Paris and Cobra Kai will be split up into multiple parts for their forthcoming releases. Has Netflix seen the light in ditching binge or is there something else at play? It’s sadly not a black or white answer. 

Netflix has experimented with release schedules for years now. Some reality shows have been released weekly, and some have been released in batches. Netflix’s multi-cam sitcoms have been released in batches for years. In the last couple of years, though, Netflix has leaned more into split season releases with a season of, say, 10 episodes split up into two volumes and released within a few months of each other.

Of course, you can read a million ways into Netflix’s newfound love for split seasons, given that it’s not exactly a new phenomenon.

Stranger Things, perhaps, was the real first swing (and biggest success) in terms of a scripted show getting a split release. Thanks to the show being one of Netflix’s flagship titles and season 4 having incredible stakes, people stuck with the show and it kept incredible viewing numbers between both parts.

Other shows to follow in its footsteps include The Witcher, The Lincoln Lawyer, Virgin River, You, and The Crown.

Bridgerton is the next to follow with season 3 being split across two volumes in May and June 2024.

As mentioned, we’ve now got Emily in Paris and Cobra Kai to follow in the second half of 2024 with more undoubtedly set to follow.

Cobra Kai is perhaps the biggest split we’ve seen in terms of being sliced into three and the distance between episode drops. Showrunner Jon Hurwitz explained the supersized final season in a post on X saying:

“We’re excited to finally share that we’re making 15 episodes instead of 10. Three distinctly unique, mini-seasons that tell one super-sized final story.

Brace yourselves for a wild ride full of laughs, cries, and ass-kicking. Plus a healthy dose of Karate Kid feels. July 18th can’t come soon enough!”

John Kreese

Cobra Kai Season 6 To Be Released In 3 Parts Starting In July 2024

If you spend any time on X or reading numerous think pieces about the streaming wars, Netflix’s commitment to the binge model with plenty of people arguing in either direction. Julia Alexander just recently argued for Puck News that Baby Reindeer worked on Netflix because of binge while Fallout suffered on Prime Video because of it.

A friend of the website The Entertainment Strategy Guy has long discussed the merits and fallbacks of the binge model, referring to it as one of the “most divisive arguments in the streaming wars.” He primarily supports weekly drops as the best way to release a show.

I tend to be on the side of Netflix’s overall output, which doesn’t support weekly releases, because of purely the amount of volume. Disney+, on the other hand, needs weekly releases because their lineup is baron otherwise. When Netflix releases 5-10 new Original titles every week, the release schedule gets very messy very quickly. Netflix already gets enough flak for not promoting its shows enough, imagine if it had to juggle campaigns for 20 ongoing shows every week! Nightmare.

So the happy medium, it seems, is this split-season release often sitting between two financial quarters but with the caveat that it works best for established shows with dedicated audiences.

Split seasons have advantages and disadvantages, and Netflix’s data makes it hard to see if there’s significant decay in viewership between each part as they lump them all together but given Netflix keeps returning to the release pattern, they must be encouraged to keep going with it.

Netflix’s US Supply Problem

The main reason we could see Netflix leaning more on split season releases as we enter the second half of the year is because of a supply problem that’s been caused by last year’s historic Hollywood strikes that saw writers put their pencils down for the majority of the year and actor’s joining them on the picket line too. Add in the fact that Netflix was also at the mercy of production halts, delays, and additional production time due to COVID between 2020 and 2022, then you get to the point where Netflix doesn’t have a war chest of content banked for a year or so in advance but is instead more hand-to-mouth than ever.

The strikes impacted projects at almost all stages of development, with the exception of any in post-production, but even then, there were likely some holdups.

Even once the strikes concluded, things were slow to get back up and running fully again. Most projects picked back up or started in the New Year rather than trying to contend with the public holidays in later months of the year.

I posted in January that Netflix seemed to be getting things back into production on a priority basis. First priority was getting any shows/movies midway through production back on the tracks. Next was getting any renewed shows back into action. Since then, we’ve seen a particular emphasis on comedy series (shorter production times and less post-production = faster release), and over the summer, we’ll start to see some of the other bigger brand-new Netflix shows and movies get underway, like Man on Fire and The Boroughs, for instance.

If we rewind back to Netflix’s preview of the year to come when it confirmed 90+ returning and debut shows, many had only just started production and many are still ongoing until early-to-late Summer 2024. Outer Banks, The Night Agent, and Monsters: The Lyle and Erik Menendez Story are some of the biggest shows of the second half of the year and they are all still in production as of time of publishing.

Filming Begins On The Night Agent Season 2

The Night Agent season 2 will return in 2024

Even the two aforementioned shows, Cobra Kai and Emily in Paris, have yet to conclude filming as of the time of writing. Both are scheduled to wrap sometime around the end of May 2024.

Of course, we mention this because there’s an added incentive to split seasons at the moment given the lighter schedule of US-produced Originals and to help fill in gaps that would otherwise be very apparent.

Netflix has been trying to fill up its library in other ways too. We’ve been on the case about licensed shows being back with a vengeance with 70% of all the new TV episodes added to Netflix US in the first part of the year being licensed titles.

Netflix UK has played a big part in Netflix not feeling the pinch quite so much this year, as they’re on a historic run of hits, particularly on the TV front. They kicked off the year with an absolute bang with Fool Me Once which performed so well it hit the Netflix all-time most popular list and has since followed that up with The Gentlemen and the record-breaking Baby Reindeer.

What do you think? Do you think Netflix should keep doing split seasons or go back to binge completely, even if that means there are gaps in Netflix’s schedule? Let us know in the comments.

Written by

Founder of What's on Netflix, Kasey has been tracking the comings and goings of the Netflix library for over a decade. Covering everything from new movies, series and games from around the world, Kasey is in charge of covering breaking news, covering all the new additions now available on Netflix and what's coming next.

 Poster Rating: TV-MA
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Romance
Cast: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Julie Andrews
Season Additions:
  • - Season 3 - Part 1 was added to Netflix on May 16th, 2024
  • - Season 2 was added to Netflix on March 25th, 2022
  • - Season 1 was added to Netflix on December 25th, 2020
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