Netflix releasing every episode of House of Cards season one all at once was a revolutionary idea in 2013. “Our goal is to shut down a portion of America for a whole day,” showrunner Beau Willimon jokingly told the New York Times, which noted that in “some corners of Hollywood,” there was a “deep skepticism” about Netflix’s all-at-once model. Now, it’s de rigueur for many streaming services. But as Disney+ has found success with weekly episodes of The Mandalorian, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, both in terms of ratings and headline-dominating conversation, Netflix is “experimenting” with traditional release schedules for two hit series.
The streaming service announced on Tuesday that the new seasons of The Circle and Too Hot to Handle will premiere this spring. “When these shows debuted last year, their unique premises turned heads,” Brandon Riegg, Netflix’s VP of unscripted and documentary series, said in a statement. “In January, The Circle challenged players to quarantine in their individual apartments and only communicate with each other via social media. By the time April arrived and we released Too Hot to Handle, a dating competition where the prize money hinged on players keeping their hands off each other, the seemingly outrageous setup suddenly felt much more relatable.” He added:
We’re also experimenting with the release format so you have time to dissect and dish on every step of the competition as it unfolds. We’ll debut several new episodes at a time on Wednesdays beginning with the first four episodes of The Circle on April 14. Once The Circle wraps in May, Too Hot to Handle takes over in June.
Netflix — which rarely deviates from its binge-friendly formula, with a few expectations — is mimicking what HBO Max did with The Flight Attendant and Search Party by releasing a cluster of episodes at a time, instead of the Disney+ model. It worked for the Kaley Cuoco-starring surprise hit (and more people should be watching Search Party), but the real question is when (if?) Netflix will do weekly episodes for a scripted series.