Though Netflix may have emerged as the frontrunner when it comes to original streaming content, what with the successes of House of Cards and Arrested Development, don't expect Amazon to be following in its footsteps entirely. You won't be able to binge watch their new series Alpha House.
Writer Jonathan Alter, who is executive producing the Garry Trudeau-penned Alpha House, told The Wrap's Sharon Waxman that Amazon will not release the series all at once à la Netflix when it becomes available late this year or early next through Amazon Prime. Alter explained: "It hasn't been entirely determined how they'll put it out. But it will be a different model."
The Netflix system of releasing all episodes of a series at once hasn't been foolproof. Viewers consume the shows quickly, and buzz dies down fast. As our Richard Lawson wrote following the release of Arrested Development: "The current Netflix strategy eliminates watercooler chat, it saps the experience of speculation, of theorizing, of cautious optimism or nervous despair. The all-at-once release does a number on conversation, essentially, and conversation seems to be a large part of why many people watch television these days."
Amazon has been particularly experimental in the way it has handled its jump into original content, releasing all their pilots online and using viewer feedback to help them decide which to order series. Now, they'll seek to make appointment television online. If any of their series can do this effectively, though, it'll most certainly be Alpha House, which stars John Goodman. The pilot, which had its share of laughs, featured a raucous cameo from Bill Murray. Though it's a comedy about a group of Republican senators living together in a house, the show's success will inevitably be measured against House of Cards given its star power and political subject matter. (Other new Amazon shows include a comedy about Silicon Valley called Betas and some children's programming.)
Given our documented frustration with the Netflix system, we're intrigued to see how this works, but Amazon's shows—even this most buzzy one—may not have the clout to sustain viewership. It's hard to know whether even House of Cards would have found its audience had it not been for those who binge-watched and spread the word. But if it works, it might just change the way we watch television online.