Here’s why new ‘WandaVision’ episodes debut in the middle of the night
Feb 26, 2021, 6:35 AM
(CNN) — Every Friday, groggy Marvel fans either wake up early or stay up late to follow along with the weekly adventures of streaming’s favorite couple: witchy Wanda Maximoff and her humanoid husband, The Vision, on Disney+’s “WandaVision.”
Marvel Studios’ first original series for Disney+ has found a loyal audience, even though new episodes debut at a really weird time.
The series — which takes viewers into a world that mimics traditional TV shows — follows an old-school TV schedule, premiering a new episode every week as opposed to the Netflix binge model, where an entire season is released all at once. But here’s the weird part: new episodes premiere every Friday at 3am on the East Coast and at midnight out West.
So why is one of the most-talked-about shows on TV debuting new episodes during a time slot typically reserved for insomniacs and regrettably texting your ex? Well, streaming services such as Disney+ are global brands trying to capture global audiences, and there’s simply no “right” time to cater to everyone, everywhere.
“The rationale behind the midnight PT drop is global alignment around a time that works best for content to sunrise across all time zones,” a Disney spokesperson told CNN Business.
For decades, broadcast networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC only had to worry about catering to viewers from coast to coast. That’s not the case for streamers.
Disney+, for example, is available not just in the US, but also in Canada, Germany, Spain, India, France, Japan, Australia, Brazil, and several other countries.
So it may be a challenge for US-based “WandaVision” fans to stay up late — and stay off social media throughout the following day to avoid spoilers. Still, Disney has determined that midnight PT is the optimal time to reach as many of its subscribers worldwide as possible. Of course we don’t actually know how many of those users are actually tuning in when each episode debuts since streaming services keep viewership metrics under wraps.
In addition to finding a global sweet spot in terms of timing, there are also Disney+’s servers to consider.
Premiering highly anticipated episodes of “WandaVision” or “The Mandalorian” when most people are asleep ultimately helps lighten the service’s load.
But even then, it may not matter. For example, Disney+ suffered outages last week as subscribers clogged the system late at night in order to watch the latest “WandaVision” episode.
The outages likely speak more to the popularity of the show than to the service’s technical capabilities since, outside of its launch day, Disney+ isn’t really known for crashing. But the last thing Disney or any streamer wants is a service that can’t, well, stream.
Ultimately, Disney+ has many reasons for dropping “WandaVision” in the middle of the night.
Yet, the most significant rationale is keeping its users, wherever they are, as satisfied as possible. This way, they’ll keep watching every week, even if some (including yours truly) get a bit annoyed by the amount of coffee they need to drink in order to keep watching.
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