As Netflix debuts its first original series, Lilyhammer, on February 6, the video subscription service has announced that it will make every episode available to viewers all at once. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the strategy is ideally suited for the digital world, signaling that the company is embracing users' preference to watch multiple episodes of their favorite programs as a "marathon" rather than spacing out the eight shows of its first season of the comedic crime series over several weeks.
"If you love the first episode, there is no need to wait until next week, or to set a DVR, to catch the next one," Netflix's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said in a statement Tuesday.
Lilyhammer stars E Street Band rocker Steven Van Zandt in a role similar to the one he played on the popular and now defunct HBO series The Sopranos, as a gangster in the federal witness protection program who moves to Lillehammer, Norway. Netflix is the exclusive distributor of the show, which is produced in Norway, the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
It's the first of several series to which Netflix has bought exclusive rights in a bid to expand its lineup beyond television reruns and older films. Later this year the service will start streaming the original political drama House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey. In the first half of 2013, Netflix will run new episodes of the canceled Fox comedy Arrested Development.
Netflix has indicated that it probably will follow a similar release strategy for its other upcoming original programs, although exact launch dates have not been set.
More than 60% of the content viewed on Netflix's Internet streaming is television. Consumers have come to use the service more as a way to catch up on TV shows they missed on-air than to view its more limited collection of movies, most of which are at least a decade old.
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.