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Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

Should streaming platforms delay their shows’ finales for ratings? (Op-Ed)

One of the biggest appeals of on-demand content that is released on streaming platforms is the total availability of full seasons of shows that are compiled after their original air dates, or are released in full season catalogs instead of a week-by-week basis, as seen on cable platforms.

As a result, “binge watching”, or consuming television content for an extended period of time with no breaks, has become immensely popular on platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. 

However, we’ve seen an interesting shift in production from original content that is specifically produced and distributed by these platforms. 

For these original shows such as “Stranger Things”, or “Love is Blind”, a majority of episodes in a season, but not all, are now being frontloaded and released all at once at a specific date. After a designated period of time, the platform announces a date or dates for the single or multiple-part finale episode to air, effectively increasing long-term awareness and ratings for the program. 

On the other hand, this does not always resonate well with users who have become accustomed to consuming full seasons at a time. 

While one could argue against allowing users to consume enormous amounts of digital content at a time to persuade against extended screen time, it’s a simple reality that those who are already screen junkies are not so easily going to change their ways. If they’re 14 hours deep with a couch imprint and their eye on the prize- so be it. These distributors should be prepared to fully commit to releasing new series or new seasons of existing series without relying on bait for their audience, or preying on delayed gratification. 

This is especially concerning as streaming services, especially Netflix, have become incredibly short-sighted when it comes to the decision-making behind canceling or renewing their original content. Ratings and viewership are everything when it comes to validating digital content like television- executives want to see results, and oftentimes, only the shows that reach their viewership criteria get the chance to push on, even if lower-rated (and, arguably, lower-promoted) shows with an unsatisfactory reception have die-hard, active, vocal fans who are willing to show up and advocate for one, two, five or more seasons. 

If these platforms truly want to prioritize ratings and viewership, allow users to fully enjoy and consume these shows without delay- deliver on-demand, and enjoy the fruits of the labor without stringing along the very people in charge of the remote. 

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