For Netflix and fans, this seems like an obvious win-win. By releasing the much-anticipated “Gilmore Girls” revival on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the popular streaming service is making a series beloved by families available when families are getting together. Rather than fight over what to watch — “There’s a college football game on!” “But what about ‘The Simpsons’ marathon?” “Wait: Is ‘Westworld’ suitable for a 14-year-old?” — just about everyone can agree what takes priority come Friday morning (and literally everyone should be able to enjoy the new episodes.)
But is that all there is to it? A kind gift to fans at a date and time of their convenience? Of course not. Netflix is making a business decision here for a coveted property they paid a pretty penny to produce. Those factors certainly play into it, but that’s not the end of the story.
First, we have to ask if the holidays are really the best time to binge. With all the travel and family responsibilities (like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and general catching up), finding time to get through four 90-minute episodes could prove tricky, even if everyone does agree to sit down and watch it.
“Gilmore Girls” is, at least, fun for the whole family. TBS is trying to take advantage of the holiday’s opportunities by releasing Season 1 of “Search Party” on demand, but that’s for teenage audiences (if not older) and up. The fine folks at Turner are hoping millenials find time on their own to binge through as many episodes as it takes to get hooked. (Not that they’d dissuade group viewing.)
Netflix could be counting on something similar. Perhaps their desire isn’t that families watch all of the new “Gilmore Girls” episodes, but that streaming savvy subscribers show non-subscribers the benefits of bingeing. Then, when the holidays are over, those new addicts will return home and subscribe themselves, both to see the end of “Gilmore Girls” and sample a few more original series on Netflix.
That being said, the other side could apply as well. If groups do prove as devoted as many superfans have been in the past, they could consume all six hours of fresh content in a day or two and return home without a strong incentive to subscribe. Could it have been better for Netflix to rely on families watching together remotely, thus forcing each viewer to have an individual subscription to the service instead of one subscriber sharing a log-in with everyone? (Keep in mind only two people can watch Netflix at the same time using the same, standard subscription — $9.99 per month — even with separate profiles.) Also, depending on how conclusive the ending is for the revival, releasing a one-and-done season instead of an ongoing series won’t drive the same number of viewers to come back to the service in the future.
Clearly, Netflix has crunched the numbers and deemed the possible benefits from this release strategy outweigh any negatives. We may never know how successful it is, given how heavily guarded the company’s streaming statistics are, but we will be able to see if they repeat the holiday release strategy in coming years. Here’s hoping a happy Thanksgiving this year leads to many more in the future.
Related News and Notes:
- IndieWire has seen all of “Search Party” and the “Gilmore Girls” revival and published reviews for each. Don’t worry, though. They’re both spoiler-free.
- Find out why Lauren Graham refused to read the final script when it was first given to her.
- Alexis Bledel teases Rory’s reunion with her most significant boyfriends, and you’re going to want to hear her side of things.
- Luke himself, Scott Patterson, discusses how he got back into character after all these years (and why it wasn’t as easy as some may think).
- Stars Hollow returns in all its glory for “A Year in the Life.” Find out how the cast and crew recreated an entire town.
- Watch the latest “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” trailer and be as prepared as possible for all the emotions coming your way.