Why WandaVision isn't made for binge-watching
DisneyPlus have thrown caution to the wind but it's brilliantly worked in their favour
Living in the digital age means we are very much used to streaming trends and non-traditional release patterns. The mass production standard of streaming platforms enables binge-watching habits that are addictive and a little bit dangerous.
Case and point, the new arrival of Star on DisneyPlus: hundreds of new titles have been added to the service which adds thousands of hours of content to easily digest. Netflix's typical release formula consists of dropping (at least) eight episodes of a series on its release day.
This indulgence of watching in rapid succession has desensitized our brains to the old-school release schedules. Only in the last five years have original programmes on subscription services grown to overtake prime-time television content in terms of popularity and viewership figures.
So the negative response online, and by some public media outlets, to WandaVision following a traditional release schedule is no surprise. But this choice, especially for Marvel Studios and DisneyPlus content, is essential to storytelling.
The level of planning and construction that has gone into this series is unlike anything done before. It's following a marathon of 23 major blockbusters and creating the first steps into the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To mass release WandaVision in one sitting would be a disservice to the years (it's probably years) of work that the team at Marvel Studios have put in to form just this one series alone.
Looking at the number of Easter eggs and extraordinary plot details that have been planned to tease and mystify Marvel addicts, as well as the eccentric production scale, WandaVision hasn't been made for the purpose of binge-watching.
It's a slow-burn epic and the executives at Disney and Marvel haven't just chosen a weekly-release schedule to create fan suspense: they're also testing a new marketing strategy (and we know how much love they love marketing).
Television is nothing new to the studio. They've had three series air on ABC, two on Hulu, and six drop on Netflix. The Netflix shows obviously followed the mass release plan of the platform. You could suggest this is one of the reasons why these series inevitably failed as one of Marvel's greatest strengths is making fans wait whilst building excitement through promotion tidbits and social media buzz. So you can see why they've been hesitant to release WandaVision all at once.
The show is not only Marvel Studios' first original series but its also their first collaboration of many with DisneyPlus. Just two weeks after the final episode of WV (19th March), The Falcon and The Winter Soldier's first episode is to be released. And Loki is supposed to coming in June. Including WandaVision, there are 13 original Marvel Studios series coming to DisneyPlus in the next 2-4 years. Paired with the 11 future films that will be released during this time period also, the full library of content is looking to be astounding.
This partnership between the giants of entertainment is a huge move for the industry, proving even further how Disney are the ruler of the Conglomerates. Their strategies for release schedules, cast promotion and social media content for WandaVision has definitely worked in their favour despite the number of complaints from some viewers. The show has become the world's "most in-demand TV show across all platforms" just four weeks after its debut episode.
By gifting episodes to fans on a weekly basis, it consistently keeps the buzz and conversation across social media and online at a remarkable level. And it keeps viewership figures strong, with a surefire boost when the series ends and everybody binge-watches the entire thing to relive the excitement.
What both companies need to consider in the future though is the inevitable discourse that comes with the huge audience they have to cater for. When you have a reception of hundreds of millions, issues like leaks are bound to happen but you kinda expect better from a multi-billion dollar media company.
The response and reception to WandaVision is a huge learning curve and gives Marvel and Disney lots to think about for their upcoming projects. If they keep a similar attention to detail and passion to deliver fan service as they have done with WandaVision, expect global domination on a scale that will alter not just the future of streaming, but the future of television also.