NBC to Pull a Netflix and Release ‘Aquarius’ Online In Its Entirety

NBC is hopping on the binge-watching bandwagon. Following in the footsteps of Netflix, the network will release all 13 episodes of its upcoming Charles Manson-themed drama Aquarius on and other on-demand platforms immediately after the two-hour series premiere on Thursday, May 28.

“With Aquarius we have the opportunity to push some new boundaries to give our audience something no broadcast network has done before,” said NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt in a statement. “We are fully aware how audiences want to consume multiple episodes of new television series faster and at their own discretion, and we’re excited to offer our viewers this same experience since all 13 episodes of this unique show have been produced and are ready to be seen.”

NBC to Pull a Netflix and Release 'Aquarius' Online In Its Entirety

Credit: NBC

The show stars David Duchovny police sergeant who’s among the first law enforcement agents to get wise to Charles Manson and his sinister cult. So he’s essentially the Hipster of Justice since, after all, he knew all about Manson before he was famous. Of course, Duchovny will likely be fine if this show fails, considering he’s got the upcoming return of The X-Files on FOX to fall back on. But this seems like a risky move for NBC. Unlike Netflix, NBC actually does need ratings to justify ad rates. Basically, I’m not entirely sure a broadcast network can afford to put an entire series online before it’s even aired on TV. Hell, it was bad enough when a network would put a pilot online before premiere, and then wonder why no one watched that same premiere when the show would finally debut weeks later. In short, this just seems counterintuitive, unless NBC is testing the waters for its own pseudo-Netflix model, which is frankly unthinkable.

The show mostly looks alright, so maybe it’s the sort of series that will benefit from binge-watching. But even if that’s the case, it seems counterproductive to gaining ratings, since strong word of mouth will simply steer viewership towards the online platforms, not toward the TV airings. Then again, the guidelines for TV success seem to be changing by the year, so who knows? Maybe the online traffic, combined with whatever ratings Aquarius does, will make this approach worthwhile?

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