Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Yahoo Screen Inconsistencies of online streaming
By Nicole Wallack
May 5, 2015
In a culture of binge watching, the release schedules for some of Yahoo Screen and Hulu’s shows seem simply archaic.
Netflix, the leading proponent of the binge-watching model and a major online content provider, uploads all the episodes of each new season of a show at once, including its own original content. This mass release of episodes of original content allows a person to watch the show at his or her own pace and does not force weekly timed viewer ratings, like regular television does.
The Netflix model is a sharp contrast to the Hulu model. Hulu mainly focuses on providing new episodes of network shows to the Internet in the one episode per week style of television, while providing a few original shows and shows branded as originals that are joint efforts with networks, with a few notable exceptions. Three of Hulu’s original shows, “Deadbeat,” “The Wrong Mans,” and “The Hotwives of Orlando” actually have been released using the binge-watching model. This may represent an attempt at consistency with respect to new episodes of original content across providers. However, this just leads to a lack of consistency within the service for how new original episodes are released.
The inherent fear with Netflix’s model is that the show will not be popular, and unlike with pilots of television shows, the already finished season cannot be cancelled to save money. However, this model does appear to be working for Netflix, as they continue to pump out new original content and it seems to be the standard for all of their original content, from the massively popular veteran “House of Cards” to rookie shows like “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Daredevil.”
Yahoo Screen, similar to Hulu, mixes the television model of one episode per week with the Netflix model. With regard to its major show “Community,” Yahoo Screen follows the classic television model with a twist for the Internet, that each new episode will be available at 12:01 a.m. PST on the morning that the episode will be “aired.” However, another of Yahoo Screen’s original shows, “Sin City Saints,” seems to have followed the Netflix model. The rookie provider appears to be experimenting with different models for its different types of shows. “Sin City Saints” is a new show, but “Community” is in its sixth season, and first online season, after five seasons on network television. Perhaps in this way, Yahoo Screen is still considering “Community” something of a network show.
“Community” itself has an interesting history of being deemed so niche that it was constantly in jeopardy of being cancelled by its host network, NBC. It was repeatedly renewed at the last minute until last season, when it was finally dropped from the network. The show was extremely popular with the online community, and the cries of the fans of the cult show were what seemed to have been responsible for the renewal of the show. So, unsurprisingly, it garnered a lot of interest from online content providers.
Most assumed that the show would go on Netflix or Hulu, prompting people to wonder about the release schedule of the show. However, the relatively unheard-of Yahoo Screen actually won the bid to produce and screen the show. The announcement about Yahoo Screen was met with confusion and surprise. Many people had not heard of the service at all. The relatively obscure streaming service gained a lot of notoriety from acquiring “Community.”
What is apparent is that there is no consistency among the providers for how original content is released. Even with Hulu and Yahoo Screen, there is a lack of uniformity among the screening of their original content. This frequently leads to confusion among viewers as to how they will be able to watch their favorite online shows.
In the age of Internet content, uniformity will be necessary to avoid confusion and maximize viewers.