Could Doctor Who Adopt A Netflix Broadcast Model?
Guest contributor Craig Sightings ponders the scenario.
TV broadcasting is changing. Over the past several years we’ve seen companies like Netflix and other streaming services become more and more popular with people choosing how and when they want to watch TV shows, rather than being held hostage to the traditional broadcast schedule. This situation recently got me wondering about a hypothetical situation where Doctor Who adopted the Netflix method and whether or not it would work the show.
What is the Netflix model?
For those unfamiliar with how Netflix works, basically they (with occasional exceptions) release every episode of a TV show’s season all on one date to subscribers. So if such a thing were to happen in Doctor Who’s case that would mean you’d be able to stream all 12/13 episodes at once on a certain date and “binge” the whole thing in one go. The BBC could in theory release every episode on the iPlayer. Indeed they have been experimenting with releasing their shows online in this way and have faced pressure to become a subscription service, so this idea doesn’t seem far fetched.
The most obvious pro is that fans would get to see the entire series in one sitting, if you so desired! This is obviously great on the surface because it means no painstaking waiting for each week’s episode, especially if patience isn’t your strong suit. And that does seem to be a quality many Whovians lack. So under this broadcast model if you want to open all your Christmas presents at once, then go right on ahead! No one is stopping you.
A longer Story Arc/Narrative
With a whole season available on the fly a longer and more pronounced series narrative/story arc could be introduced with less of a risk of people getting lost and/or annoyed waiting for answers. Steven Moffat experimented somewhat with this concept in Series 6 with mixed results. Partly I believe this was due to the series split. It took a lot of time to finally deliver answers and I wonder if the whole series had been available whether people would have been not so disappointed with the answers when they finally came.
No Episode Build-Up / Diminished Discussion
Aside from the launch period, they’d be no growing anticipation for each week’s episode. They’d be little point for “next time” trailers, promo images, clips and teasers etc either because the whole series would be at your fingertips at once. Equally I feel there’d be less focussed discussion and attention on individual episodes. Fans would be more likely to only discuss the biggest episodes, events and so forth. There’d be less time to digest it all, as it were.
Fan theories and speculation for each episode would also be pointless. Fans can go crazy with these theories in trying to out-Moff the Moff (or whoever is in charge at the time), but it’s also a lot of fun and gives us all something to engage with and talk about as a community as we watch each week and gather more clues on the year’s story arc. What would be left to speculate on the answers are already available to you?
Then if your fellow Whovians are ahead of you in viewing, or vice versa you instantly lose that conversation option, or at least an in-depth one. People are more likely to be in sync with each other by watching on a weekly schedule.
More Spoilers / Longer waits in the long run
With a whole season available all at once spoilers would be much easier to stumble on by accident online. People and websites would have free reign to discuss everything all at once. It would mean avoiding a lot of sites because say you chose to savour your viewing experience, or simply weren’t able to binge all at once you’d have to try and avoid social media/websites for that same amount of time.
Secondly, if you binged the show in a day or so, the waits for each series would only be longer. As much fun as it is opening all your Christmas presents at once, you’ll only be left disappointed when you realise there’s none left and that you have to wait another whole year for more!
I’m not going to sit on the fence here, so my conclusion after looking some of the pros and cons is that I’d much prefer Doctor Who to be broadcast the way has been all along, as a weekly show. However, I am interested in what other people feel on the matter, so please let me know your thoughts in the comments.