See Why Netflix Split Up This Season Of Stranger Things
This weekend marks the release of “Stranger Things 4 — Vol. 2” on Netflix, and the kids from Hawkins, Indiana, are back just in time for the media behemoth.
Netflix’s year in 2022 has been terrible. This year, its stock price has decreased by 70%. The business announced its first subscriber loss in more than ten years in April. Netflix fired 300 workers last week. It is anticipated that its earnings report this month would reveal a further two million subscriber losses.
But there’s one thing that has been great for Netflix (NFLX): “Stranger Things.”
The science-fiction horror series’ fourth season’s premiere episode made a record-breaking debut in May, making it Netflix’s most-watched English-language TV program. Since its debut four weeks ago, it has remained at No. 1 on Netflix’s English top 10 list and contributed to the resurgence of a 1985 smash song.
So why would a corporation that popularized binge-watching split up its most popular franchise into two parts? The response is not at all odd.
The two premieres are held during two different company quarters. “Stranger Things 4: Vol. 1” was released on May 27 and “Vol. 2” will be released on July 1 to start the third quarter of Netflix’s fiscal year.
Popular show viewers are unlikely to renounce their membership before seeing the complete season. The company has a higher chance of retaining subscribers with new episodes spanning two different quarters around holiday weekends, which it needs to accomplish to please Wall Street.
The show’s popularity this season is the other, non-financial reason for the division of “Stranger Things.”
“With nine scripts, over eight-hundred pages, almost two years of filming, thousands of visual effects shots, and a run time nearly twice the length of any previous season, ‘Stranger Things 4’ was the most challenging season yet, but also the most rewarding one,” the Duffer Brothers, the show’s creators, wrote in a note in February. “Given the unprecedented length, and to get it to you as soon as possible, season 4 will be released in two volumes.”
The Duffers weren’t being hyperbolic.
“Stranger Things 4 — Vol. 1” is roughly nine hours long. The final two episodes that make up “Vol. 2” have run times that match feature films, with episode eight running an hour and 25 minutes and episode nine coming in at a whopping two hours and 30 minutes.
So there’s a business reason and a creative one for splitting the season. But there’s also another rationale: it keeps the show in the public consciousness.
“They changed things up a little by splitting the release of ‘Stranger Things’ into two halves,” Zak Shaikh, vice president of programming at research-based media firm Magid, told CNN Business. “But in general they can slow down the release of some of their major franchises, so those shows get to stay part of the conversation for longer.”
By having “Stranger Things” episodes separated by a month or so, Netflix gets two bites at the apple, markets the same season twice and keeps the show top of mind for its viewers.
This isn’t the first time Netflix has split up a series. The final season of “Ozark,” another Netflix hit, was split over two quarters when it premiered episodes from its final season in January and April earlier this year.
There’s been a lot of debate around whether streamers should release episodes weekly or all at once. Netflix — which has primarily stuck to the binge model — may have found a middle ground.
“Bingeing worked as a strategy to disrupt the marketplace,” Shaikh said. “But it doesn’t maximize the value of hot properties.”