The hit animated title ‘Arcane’ has reached its conclusion on Netflix, but is the ‘Act’ release format worth sticking with for upcoming series?

Netflix is one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world and has been part of mainstream entertainment consumption for the past decade. However, that doesn’t mean that the streaming service is without its criticism, which for many users has been the release format for new titles.

For anime fans, in particular, we have been forced to wait months after a series has finished airing in Japan, and the spoilers have circulated online before the show becomes available to watch on Netflix.

However, the latest hit animated series on the platform, Arcane, has done something slightly different by releasing ‘Acts’ as clusters of episodes; but is this something worth sticking with?

Arcane | Vi’s Records Council Archives Trailer

Arcane | Vi’s Records Council Archives Trailer

How does Netflix typically launch new content?

Historically, Netflix was a platform that released all their new content at once i.e., launching the entire season of a series at the same time on the same day, enabling viewers to ‘binge’ any streamed title.

Whilst this did build the platform’s reputation for accessible content, many fans became frustrated because it excluded the possibility for either simulcast or bi-weekly releases with many forced to wait months to watch their favourite shows.

The change came first in the form of K-dramas, where Netflix started licensing individual titles from South Korean television broadcast stations. Non-original titles began utilising a format where episodes release on Netflix just one hour after the programme has concluded in South Korea.

More recently, another alteration to the platform’s typical release format finally came from the world of anime. In October, the service started streaming weekly episodes of Komi Can’t Communicate and Blue Period alongside the Japanese television broadcast – so what was different about Arcane?

Arcane’s unusual release format…

The hit animated series ‘Arcane’ launched through Netflix on November 6th with a rather unique release format, with new content neither releasing all at once nor on a weekly episodic format.

Instead, Arcane and Netflix took the approach of airing three new episodes on the same day, once a week – which are defined as ‘Acts’ in the episode listings.

  • Act One: Episode 1 – 3 on November 6th
  • Act Two: Episode 4 – 6 on November 13th
  • Act Three: Episode 7 – 9 on November 20th

Whilst the Arcane series lends itself to this ‘Act’ release format because of the main storyline (and being an adaptation of video game lore), has it opened a door for more Netflix titles to do the same?

Is Arcane’s Act release format a winner?

There is a vast ocean of content available for you to stream on Netflix and whilst that is fantastic for viewers, it makes it difficult for new series to make a splash with a global audience.

This is emphasised if a series is launched as a simulcast title, where all of the initial post-launch hype is entirely reliant on one single episode.

As countless users have shared on social media, weekly episodes run the risk of losing their poignancy for streaming – with many arguing that they “might as well get cable TV.”

“Dear #Netflix if it says weekly episodes no matter how good it looks I ain’t watching it I don’t come here for that!! – Twitter user ‘QueenAbenaRose‘.

So if releasing an entire season at once reduces longevity, and fans don’t want weekly releases; could the ‘Act’ format be a good middle ground?

For example, if a title uses the ‘Act’ format where three or four episodes launch at once, there is much more content available for people to be attentive to, and potentially get hooked by.

With a title such as Arcane, which releases three new episodes at a time, there is much more content to be talked about, shared and promoted by viewers before the next batch of episodes releases the following week.

Unfortunately, Netflix does not publicly share information regarding the individual viewership statistics for many of their streaming titles. Therefore, there is no objective way to measure if the Act release format is either more or less successful than their simulcast or ‘binge’ launches.

However, there is an argument that the way Arcane has been released is a factor in its incredible success: at the time of writing, the series is scoring an outstanding 9.4/10 on IMDB, making it the best-rated Netflix original title in history.

Interestingly, Netflix has already experimented with this new format before; launching multiple episodes of reality shows ‘The Circle’ and ‘Too Hot to Handle’ in April and June of this year.

It would be interesting to see how other major productions would fare with an ‘Act’ release format similar to Arcane, or if the League of Legends series can act as a catalyst for this new way to premiere title?

Don’t want to wait a week for more than one episode? Check. Don’t want the series to risk irrelevance shortly after launching? Check. Could this be the new way forward for Netflix? Maybe.

By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]

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