Analytics firm Samba TV has released new research on streaming rollout strategies, finding that weekly releases help drive viewership over time while bulk drops of episodes are better for audience retention.
Samba TV analyzed a range of distribution models: full seasons at a time, two-part drops and weekly rollouts. An episode a week is best suited for platforms looking to maximize total viewership, Samba TV says. Bulk releases are more likely to retain fans over the course of the season, making them more appropriate for streamers that want to maximize initial buzz and keep subs bingeing.
Samba TV cites as an example HBO’s House of the Dragon, which built viewership over time with its week-to-week strategy. In contrast, Netflix dropped the entire season of Wednesday in one sitting, delivering significant buzz in its first 50 days and clinching the top spot based on premiere viewership in 2022. Per Samba TV, House of the Dragon secured a viewership of 16.3 million households, ahead of Wednesday‘s 12.2 million.
“In the battle among streaming providers, success is defined by various metrics: maximizing subscribers, platform engagement and show audience,” said Ashwin Navin, Samba TV’s co-founder and CEO. “Comparing Netflix’s Wednesday and HBO’s House of the Dragon illustrates two different approaches that draw massive audiences, with an intense focus on how to captivate younger, diverse viewers. As the streaming landscape rapidly evolves, it’s essential to develop innovative, data-driven ways to break away from the pack.”
Samba TV’s analysis of the launch strategies of 20 shows found that the average retention rate between premiere and finale viewership (based on viewership within the first 50 days) for bulk-release shows was 47 percent. For weekly episodes, ongoing buzz helped lift viewership from premiere to finale by an average of 119 percent. A two-part strategy has the potential to maximize the benefits of both weekly and binge-viewing rollouts. Shows with two-part drops saw a higher average lift from premiere to total viewership than bulk-release shows (58 percent versus 45 percent) and higher average retention than weekly drops.