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Streaming 'has become a different animal,' TV writer Shonda Rhimes says

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·3-min read
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Though extremely popular at one point, binge watching — watching multiple episodes of a show at once — is not what it used to be.

Gone are the days of streaming giants automatically releasing new seasons of a show all at once. This is partially due to the fact that many of them have seasons much shorter than broadcast television.

“It just felt like we were making so little TV in such a long period of time,” American television producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes said recently at the Westport Library. “It was just a different animal. And I think that's also coming back around to how people are looking at how shows are made.”

Stranger Things has become a prime example of how streaming giants have changed the releases of their shows. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Stranger Things has become a prime example of how streaming giants have changed the releases of their shows. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Netflix (NFLX) is a prime example of this, breaking up its newest season of “Stranger Things” and some episodes of UK competition show “Great British Bake-Off” into two parts.

HBO Max has seen major success with this formula. Some of its biggest hits over the past year include Succession and Euphoria, both of which were released through one episode a week throughout their seasons, which consisted of nine episodes and eight episodes, respectively.

“We’re coming back around to the idea that maybe just eight episodes isn’t something,” said Rhimes, who is CEO of the global media company Shondaland. “It was really startling to me when I first moved to streaming and they were like, ‘we’re going to make eight episodes.’ I was like, ‘We made 24 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy a year and 20 episodes of Scandal and 14 or 20 episodes of How to Get Away with Murder.’”

However, binge watching has been beneficial to Rhimes. Bridgerton — a show she co-created — became the most-watched show on Netflix after its second season was released earlier this year. Rhimes attributed the show’s success to the coronavirus pandemic, as its first season debuted in December 2020.

“We couldn’t have been more lucky in terms of how that show was received,” she said. “It was pure luck. The audience needed it at the time. It wouldn’t have happened without COVID.”

Yvette Nicole Brown, Nicola Coughlan, Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran, Sophie Canale, Kris Bowers and Chris Van Dusen attend Netflix's Bridgerton ATAS Official on May 15, 2022 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix)
Yvette Nicole Brown, Nicola Coughlan, Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran, Sophie Canale, Kris Bowers and Chris Van Dusen attend Netflix's Bridgerton ATAS Official on May 15, 2022 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix)

Still, Rhimes said, “the hierarchy between film and TV has completely flipped,” as many of the biggest names in Hollywood are now competing for streaming projects.

“What I find interesting right now is how it’s evolving,” Rhimes said. Content “is going back to what it was. It was the wild west of shows and now we’re coming back around to recognizing that certain things worked, [but] maybe for some putting out all the episodes at one time doesn’t work. We’re coming back around to that idea.”

Dave Briggs is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live.

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