WandaVision: Disney+’s Midnight Streaming Releases Are Bad For Everyone

Like The Mandalorian Season 2 before it, WandaVision should be “event television”–a show that everyone you know, in person and on social media, is watching at the same time, creating a communal viewing experience. But by pointlessly adhering to the totally arbitrary “midnight release” practice that’s become standard across the streaming landscape, Disney does its fans a disservice. Fans who want to keep up with WandaVision need to stay up into the early hours of the morning every Thursday night, or risk being spoiled the following day until they’re able to actually sit down and watch each new episode. Meanwhile, fans who do stay up late to catch each episode have to carefully tiptoe around discussions for days afterward to avoid spoiling it for others. Everyone is robbed of the social experience that a show like WandaVision should embody.

Of course, this isn’t only a Disney+ problem. But it’s a worse problem for Disney than it is for competitors. Yes, Netflix tends to drop entire seasons at midnight. But when new episodes of a Netflix show like Cobra Kai Season 3 arrive, the conversation is only temporarily staggered; since all the episodes drop at once, it’s understood that everyone will eventually catch up, and after a few days or a week, the statute on spoilers relaxes. On the other hand, big Disney+ shows have so far stuck to a traditional week-to-week release schedule, exacerbating the problem by drawing it out over weeks and months. Friday after Friday, fans find themselves out of sync with their peers.

Meanwhile, other streaming platforms suffer from the exact same issue. Amazon, for example, dropped each episode of The Boys Season 2 at midnight Pacific time, and released them week-to-week just like Disney does. That was bad enough; all streaming platforms should reconsider this practice. But “event television” shows on most other streaming platforms are relatively infrequent–largely thanks to Disney’s complete control of some of the world’s biggest franchises. The problem is worse on Disney+ because in all likelihood, this is now more or less going to be a permanent fixture in fans’ weeks.

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