Last year, Amazon followed Netflix’s lead and launched its own set of Web video/TV shows.
Now, as it prepares for a second season, Amazon is taking another page from the Netflix playbook: For at least one of its upcoming shows, it will release the entire season in one go, so viewers can gobble it up as fast as they want.
All 10 episodes of “Transparent,” a comedy/drama whose pilot has been drawing raves from critics, will be available on the same date in late September. Amazon and series creator Jill Soloway made the announcement this weekend at the TV Critics Association conference.
Since a binge-friendly release schedule is no longer a novelty, it’s hard to imagine Amazon thinks it will get much marketing value from the move — Netflix soaked up all of those benefits last year when it rolled out “House of Cards.”
So it may just be that Jeff Bezos and Roy Price, who is overseeing Amazon’s original strategy, simply want to see what works best — stretching a show out over many weeks, and (hopefully) watching buzz build over time, or letting viewers scarf a show up as quickly as they can, hoping they tell their pals about it.
Bear in mind that you can now binge-watch just about every show, as long as you’re willing to wait a little bit — between “TV Everywhere” services like HBOGo and digital retail outlets like iTunes, it’s easy enough to watch 10 or 13 episodes very quickly.
In fact, that’s the way I watch a lot of stuff on my biggish screen these days: I’ve spent the last week going through “Silicon Valley” — it’s as good as everyone said it was — and when I’m done with that, I’ll try FX’s “Fargo,” which I wasn’t interested in seeing when it debuted, but kept hearing about throughout the spring.
And whenever Cinemax gets around to releasing the second season of “Banshee” on iTunes, I’ll hammer that one, too, because the first season was some pretty awesome ultra-violence.
Easy hedge bet: Amazon’s release schedule experiment won’t matter at all if people don’t love its new shows. Last year “Alpha House,” its Washington, D.C., satire, got respectful reviews, but not much buzz. “Betas,” its own attempt at a Silicon Valley show, got less of both, and won’t be back for a second season.
But New York magazine thinks “Transparent” is “magnificent,” and lots of other people are excited, too. So let’s see.