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The power of division: how Netflix increases views with seasons split in two parts

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

After establishing the marathon mode, Netflix is now going back to the old style of releasing separate seasons. In this article, see the benefits of this type of release.

THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING

Created in 1997, the Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph foundation is today one of the most popular entertainment platforms in the world. But it took about 20 years for that to happen. In the late ’90s and the early 2000s, TV shows became a phenomenon, with deep and dark projects like The Sopranos and Band of Brothers, as well as sitcoms like Friends and Sex and the City. The audience seemed to really enjoy little stories.

Popularized by HBO, series episodes were released weekly. Every channel had what was called a ‘release day,’ and by that, viewers were stuck with the same show for multiple months, not losing its relevance and sometimes attracting historical audiences to its season finale.

All of it was rebranded when Netflix decided to make original series and release them all at once. With successes like House of Cards, The Crown, and Wednesday, the streaming platform established a style of consuming shows that nobody had ever done before: shorter number of episodes, longer running time per episode, and a single release date. It became a Netflix trademark. But it has been discussed for a while now that this can be a harmful strategy.

PRACTICAL EXAMPLES

As a tactic, shows are now split into two parts of the same season. The first time this happened was in 2017 with the Spanish show La Casa de Papel. The production was bought by Netflix after TV Antena 3, the original distributor, canceled the first season. It was originally spread over 15 episodes, but the American company decided to reorganize the episodes into a larger number with a shorter run time, releasing a first season with 13 of these episodes and a second one with the nine remaining.

The series became a phenomenon, being one of the most-watched of its year, attracting the attention of the service executives. The viewers maintained their subscriptions until the release of the second part, instead of canceling after watching the show.

The split seasons became a huge thing in 2022, when they did this to the biggest original show in their catalog, Stranger Things. The fourth season was split into part one, with six episodes, and part two, with two episodes. The series was the second most watched piece of work on Netflix and it received five Emmy Awards.

This division had such power that the streaming service went down during the release of the second part, showing that when divided, people get more and more excited for the next episodes, watching all at once at the moment of its launch.

The most recent example was the long-awaited season three of Bridgerton. Colin and Penelope’s story arrived on May 16 and already attracted thousands of fans. Shows like that, full of drama and funny situations, are easily overlooked by the audience, who focus more on thoughtful series. However, when they leave them with a mystery and unanswered questions, the viewers are locked into the same situation until, in this case, June 13.

IN THE END…

In conclusion, what the platform did was conduct a market study that revealed people still liked the way its competitor, HBO, was releasing their work weekly – let’s not forget about the Game of Thrones Sundays, right? However, it wasn’t good to simply copy, so they had to find an original way of bringing back the event that was the weekly episodes while retaining its trademark. That’s how the split seasons were born.

Social media is a huge factor in its success. The theories can be maintained for much longer now, even at the end of both parts of the season. The actors can propagate their work for a longer time, and the critics can make two analyses. Overall, Netflix has gained popularity by keeping their shows relevant for much longer and not letting them fade away in just a couple of months.

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The article above was edited by Brisa Kunichiro.

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Fernanda Pegorelli

Casper Libero '27

Journalism student at Casper Libero, 17.