Amazon Studios exec Vernon Sanders admits he wasn’t sold on the idea of releasing Season 4 of Emmy-winning Prime Video comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” over multiple weeks. The binge drop had worked for the show in the past, so why mess with it?

It was creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and fellow exec producer Daniel Palladino who lobbied hard to make the change, and spread the show’s release out rather than all at once. “Our first reaction was, ‘Oh, we don’t think so!’” says Sanders, Amazon Studios’ head of US/global television. “But then we really thought about it. Given the show’s long break over COVID, we think it’s such a special season and if anything deserved more of a spotlight on it, this show did.”

Sanders said Amazon did some research and determined that two episodes a week, over the course of four weeks (for its eight episodes) would be the right cadence for the show.

“I would never recommend you sit down and watch all the shows in one sitting,” Sherman-Palladino says. “I just don’t think you’re also going to have the best experience, I think that you’re going to miss stuff. Your brain is eventually going to tune out and the whiskey will kick in.”

The evolution of the binge comes as Netflix recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its first original series, “Lilyhammer.” That show was symbolic not only for kicking off the streaming revolution, but also pioneering the binge format. The idea of offering an entire season of episodes at the same time was novel a decade ago — but as the world of streaming becomes more competitive (and crowded), release strategies are also evolving.

Hulu came in early several years ago with the decision to release many of its originals on a weekly basis; more recently, Disney Plus — which has a much smaller volume of originals than some of its competitors — has found success in stretching the conversation surrounding its Lucasfilm (“The Mandalorian”) and Marvel (“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”) series by releasing its series the old-fashioned way, week by week.

“The new water cooler is social, and the weekly drops can be really powerful in creating excitement and anticipation for the new episodes,” says Disney Streaming president Michael Paull.

The exec notes that Hulu and Disney Plus have tried all kinds of releases, from weekly and binge to a hybrid strategy of two or three episodes at first, followed by a weekly drop.

“At the core of it is a believe that there’s not a one-size-fits-all model,” Paull says. “What you’ll probably see is more of a hybrid approach when it comes to release strategies as time goes on from a variety of different players. Because we now have more information and more experience with SVOD services. And we have the greater ability to do different approaches with different types of programming. That’s one of the nice things about this ecosystem.”

Even Netflix, the pioneer of the all-at-once binge drop, is playing with its release strategy a little bit. The streamer held back on the Season 2 finale of reality sensation “Love Is Blind,” for example, and this year will split the run of “Stranger Things” Season 4 into two “volumes.”

Genre-oriented shows with rabid fan bases appear to be the best suited for the weekly model, and at Amazon, besides “Maisel,” execs also acquiesced to a similar desire by “The Boys” creator Eric Kripke to slowly dole out episodes.

“The majority of what we’re doing continues to be the binge release,” Sanders says. “And we’ve had a lot of success with that. But, it really started as a conversation that some of our creators brought to us, expressing real interest in considering a weekly release for their shows. Eric Kripke was one of the first people on the scripted side… Eric was really passionate about it. And after we had a lot of conversations — what would the fans reaction be to changing the release model between Season 1 and Season 2? — we just thought that was a real opportunity for us to learn, and to see, what we might not know. “

It paid off: “The Boys” became a phenom and an Emmy nominee, as the conversation and buzz surrounding the show stretched over multiple weeks.

The weekly release also requires more marketing and PR work over a longer period of time — which can pay off if a show’s a hit, but also means a heavier lift to get audiences to stick with it through the end. “As we think about releasing our content, it is a little complex, because we’re often trying to speak to different kinds of customers wanting different things from us as a service,” Sanders says. “So it does take some coordination. You have to capture more assets for the weekly releases. Your marketing and PR is doing their job over a longer period of time. You just need more to say, so you have to start really early in capturing all that stuff.”

Sanders says that’s why he’s having the conversation earlier with showrunners in how to release their series. “It’s really in watching those first few episodes and doing that gut check of, do we have the elements necessary? What is the show compared to other shows? And, while we’d always love to defer to how our creators would like to release their content, in some cases it just doesn’t make sense for us and in other cases we’re willing to do it.”

He warns, however, that if a show doesn’t have a strong base hungry for more, splitting the episodes over multiple weeks gives viewers a chance to drop out before the finale.

“There are pros to binge release, there pros to weekly release,” Sanders says. “And I think we will continue to do [weekly releases] on occasion, especially when it feels like there could be an existing fan base that can help us get the word out about the show… That idea of a watercooler show is always going to be something that I think all of us in this business are looking for and trying to help nurture.”

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