One of the most celebrated aspects of our Peak TV era is the release of full seasons all at once. Started by Netflix and adopted by many of the online distributors (and some of the traditional networks), fans have grown accustomed to watching their chosen shows whenever they want.
But there’s still something to be said for good timing. After all, release dates are carefully chosen, even when the distributors encourage viewers to dig in at their own leisure. Hundreds of thousands of dollars go into marketing campaigns, all pushing one specific date, and shows often have short sampling windows before other shows are rolled out. Ads, reviews, interviews, and so much more are concentrated around a week of release, maybe two, but that’s it.
So it’s always an interesting choice when a show’s release starkly clashes with competition, difficult timing, or seasons. For instance, summer used to be considered a dead zone for new releases before “too much TV” proved great ratings could be pulled at virtually any time of year. Other shows avoid coming out when they know a bigger fish will make more waves than their comparably smaller minnows.
But in the case of series like “The Man in the High Castle” being released during the winter holidays, it’s all about cheer and good will toward men… which makes the Amazon drama seem like an odd choice for December. Do viewers really want to wrap presents and decorate the tree while Nazis overtake America? Would more people try out the series if it premiered at a different time?
We may never know the answer, since Amazon won’t release any viewing statistics, but clearly they feel confidant enough in the release. Season 1 debuted about a month prior, in mid-November 2015 as opposed to mid-December 2016 for Season 2. But other streaming networks are trying similar tactics. Netflix released a rather intense sci-fi drama about death on December 16, as “The OA” made its surprise debut just in time for Christmas. Granted, Netflix has a lot of other offerings timed for the holiday season, including a “Sense8” Christmas special and Guillermo del Toro’s animated series, “Trollhunters.”
To further examine the new releases debuting this holiday season, IndieWire’s Very Good TV Podcast hosts Liz Shannon Miller and Ben Travers break down what makes sense and what doesn’t while analyzing why distributors choose the dates they do. Listen to the episode above, and start planning what you’re going to watch over the holiday break.
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