Hollywood strikes could force Netflix, Disney+, and more to eke out their television show releases

Sarah-Jessica Parker in And Just Like That... Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

By Lily Ford, ITV News Multimedia Producer

The actors' and writers' strikes ravaging Hollywood's entertainment industry are yet to reap any rewards in the form of a more appealing offer from studios and streaming giants.

But as industrial action continues - and stars such as Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Bacon, and Susan Sarandon take to picket lines - a new side effect has emerged.

With a pause on a range of projects depleting the supply of incoming material, streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video may be forced to eke out episodes of hit television shows, releasing them in weekly increments.

This would put a stop to the method of dropping all eight or ten episodes of a TV show in one go, therefore axing the popular streaming binge.

HBO's House of the Dragon dropped an episode a week last year. Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

Max, formerly HBO Max, has already proven the staggering tactic when it comes to new television can be effective.

Hit series such as House of the Dragon, Succession, The Last of Us, and And Just Like That... have all seen success with the slow and steady format.

But a streamer like Netflix may struggle a little more with the prospect - they are famed for the propensity to binge-watch on the service.

The fourth season of its acclaimed sci-fi drama Stranger Things was split into two volumes, however, as part one was released late in May last year and the other block a month later.

In a report by The Times, Kantar, the leading market researcher, said the strikes would be detrimental for streaming giants as they rely on a steady stream of new shows to entice subscribers.

Actor Bryan Cranston at a SAG-Aftra rally in New York City. Credit: AP

Over 40% of their audiences cited the latest programmes as the main reason they choose a particular service, it said.

Kantar's Dominic Sunnebo said: "Staggering the release of shows is a way to help make sure that people pay their monthly fees for longer when there isn’t any new content to offer."

Both Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ had such a high audience demand for hits like Lord of the Rings prequel series The Rings of Power and MCU spin-off Loki that they were able to pull the eke-out approach off.

"That’s where they have more leverage because demand for those shows is so strong compared to the smaller titles,” Mr Sunnebo said.

"There’s only so far they can push it before streaming starts to replicate what traditional TV offers and its unique selling point starts to rapidly reduce.

"But it may help them get through this tricky period."

And perhaps the proven success of HBO projects will make the staggered approach of television shows the new normal for other streaming services.

This week, the office of California Governor Gavin Newsom said he has contacted all sides of the strikes that have hobbled Hollywood, offering to help broker a deal to restart an industry that is crucial to keeping the state's economy humming.

The last time the writers went on strike more than a decade ago, the 100-day work stoppage cost the state’s economy an estimated $2 billion (around £1.544 billion).

But so far, leaders of the SAG-Aftra and WGA unions have not been tempted to step up to the negotiating table.

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