Fallout’s Release Strategy on Prime Video Was a Mistake

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Summary

  • Fallout
    ‘s full-season drop on Prime Video may have led to its quick cultural fade, unlike weekly releases that keep audiences engaged longer.
  • Prime Video’s decision to release
    Fallout
    all at once undercuts key cliffhangers and twists meant to engage fans week by week.
  • If Season 2 of
    Fallout
    happens, it will likely adopt a hybrid release pattern, with some episodes released together and others weekly.



Prime Video dropped its latest series, Fallout, on Apr. 10, 2024, one day ahead of its original premiere date, likely in an attempt to cash in on the highly positive reviews the series gained. Instead of releasing the first two or three episodes before doing a weekly drop, as the streaming service did with The Boys Season 3 or Invincible Season 2, Prime Video decided to drop all eight episodes simultaneously. This certainly made Fallout a big event series for people to binge over the weekend, but it might have been a big mistake for the series.

Created by Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Fallout is based on the popular video game series of the same name. Within days of Fallout being released, there were already articles explaining the ending. This certainly could undercut the series’ momentum, as fans quickly finished the eight hours of television, compared to other weekly releases on the air like X-Men ’97, Shōgun, and Star Trek: Discovery. Here is why Prime Video’s decision to release Fallout all at once was a mistake that undercuts the show’s strengths.



Fallout May Be Quickly Forgotten by Audiences

Fallout‘s all-at-once drop is the model Prime Video’s biggest streaming competitor, Netflix, popularized. Traditionally, a series would air one episode a week, with audiences rushing to watch the latest episode at its designated time of release, which made television series event programming. Yet when Netflix started creating their own original programming, they pioneered a binge format, modeled after how audiences were watching back catalog series on their platforms like Arrested Development and Breaking Bad. All at once, drops became the standard for the streaming industry, and Netflix used it to great effect to generate buzz for series like House of Cards, Daredevil, and Stranger Things.


This model is clearly popular with many, as Netflix has radically changed how people watch media with this paradigm shift. Yet, it has some drawbacks. The best example can be observed with two of Netflix’s biggest series of 2024: Grisedla and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both series had big launch weeks and generated a lot of buzz right out of the gate. Yet after a couple of weeks, when audiences binged them, they fell out of the cultural conversation. They got a lot of eyes on the platform the week they dropped, but in the long term, both shows faded from memory very quickly. Dropping a show all at once to binge certainly can be fun as it gives viewers plenty of episodes to watch and immerse themselves in, but it also means audiences tend to move on quicker.


Compare that to how X-Men ’97 has been performing on Disney+. Had all the episodes dropped at once, the shocking fifth episode, arguably one of the greatest episodes of any superhero animated show, would have been a blip on people’s radar as audiences would have just moved on to the next episode. Now, the fifth episode has had a week to sit with audiences, and they can form theories for the following weeks while also sitting with the emotions of the episode. X-Men ’97 has become an event audiences can look forward to each week and stay in the cultural conversation longer. The same thing happened with other Disney+ series like WandaVision and The Mandalorian.

This is also not something unique to Disney+. HBO has maintained a weekly release format for its series, which helped make Game of Thrones one of the biggest event television series of the modern era. The spin-off prequel series House of Dragon not only garnered 10 million viewers for its series premiere but also increased viewership in its second episode, a rare feat in television. The Last of Us, like Fallout, a critically acclaimed series based on a popular video game, ran for eight weeks back in early 2023, and the weekly format allowed more audiences to jump on board with the hype that was building.


The Full Drop Undercuts Several Twists in Fallout

Fallout

Fallout

4/5

Release Date
April 10, 2024

Seasons
1

Studio
Amazon Studios, Kilter Films, Bethesda Game Studios

Creator
Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Read Our Review

Fallout was developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, famous for the HBO series Westworld. When Westworld premiered in 2016, it took the world by storm due to the complex mysteries and questions each episode wove that drew the viewers in week after week. The breaks between episodes gave audiences time to theorize and made viewers more active in the experience. The same phenomenon happened with WandaVision when it aired on Disney+ or the popular Hulu original series Only Murders in the Building. Both series are built on mysteries that become more fun to engage with when audiences have to wait a week and sit with their thoughts.


Fallout feels like a series designed with a weekly release in mind, as many episodes end with big cliffhangers that likely were meant to mount speculation among fans on social media in the weeks between episodes. Viewers aren’t given time to process the great writing, the hidden Easter eggs, and all the seeds being plotted for the season-long storyline as they now blend together. The weekly release would have allowed the various season-long mysteries and subplots to be more engaging for fans. Episode 7 ends on a big cliffhanger that is immediately undercut by the “Next Episode” tab in the corner the second it ends.


The season-long flashback to The Ghoul’s (Walton Goggins) early years as a Hollywood actor named Cooper Howard has many moments that would have had audiences speculating and actively engaging with week after week, including a truly incredible reveal at the end of Episode 3 that would have generated a lot of buzz, that now just gets glossed over because there is no time to process each reveal before the next episode starts.

Fallout and Prime Video’s Model


Prime Video itself has experimented with shifting from binge models to weekly releases. The Boys Season 1 was released all at once, but starting with Season 2, they started the practice of releasing three episodes together before moving to a weekly format. It did seem like a cynical move at first, as it was released during the pandemic and allowed Prime Video to stretch out the popular series over weeks to hide the halt in original programming. As noted by Uproxx, audiences were initially upset, even reviewing bombing Season 2 for the decision; it quickly turned out beneficial in the long run as the weekly release allowed The Boys Season 2 mystery to generate excitement in viewers. Season 3 and the spin-off series Gen V implemented similar release patterns.

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The creative duo dives into the thrill of creating their live-action series, and how The Ghoul was written specifically with Walton Goggins in mind.


The COVID-19 pandemic and The Boys‘ success would later impact Prime Video’s release of some of its biggest series. The first three seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, released between 2017 and 2019, were all full-season drops. Yet in 2022, when they released Season 4, they released the first two episodes each week, with Season 5 moving to three episodes up front and then once a week.

While Prime Video did the weekly release model for both seasons of Invincible, helping the series’ major twist gain momentum among fans, it has given many of its biggest and most critically acclaimed series full-season drops. Both seasons of Good Omens were full-season drops, as was this year’s recent hit, Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Because Fallout is a new series for Prime Video, the streamer decided to do a big marketing push for the series all at once, hoping it would draw viewers in immediately since there was no guarantee audiences would tune in.


If Fallout Season 2 Happens, It Will Likely Adopt a Weekly Release Format

While Fallout Season 2 has not officially been greenlit, it seems almost certain. The series has generated overwhelmingly positive reviews from fans and critics alike and plenty of enthusiasm from audiences with no knowledge of the game it is based on. According to The Hollywood Reporter, on Apr. 8, 2024, just two days before Fallout premiered on Prime Video, the series picked up a $25 million tax credit offer from the California Film Commission, which means the hypothetically second season would move production from New York to Los Angeles, which is beneficial since that is where Fallout currently takes place (though the Season 1 cliffhanger sets up a familiar video game locale).


If Fallout Season 2 is a go, the series will likely move to a hybrid release pattern, releasing the first two or three episodes at once and then moving to a weekly release after. This happened not only with The Boys but also with the hit Prime Video series Reacher. Reacher Season 1 dropped all at once on Feb. 4, 2022, but Season 2 aired the first three episodes on Dec. 15, 2023, before airing episodes weekly over the next five weeks. Those first three episodes of Reacher Season 2 smashed the viewership of Season 1.

Now that Fallout has proven itself a hit, Prime Video might have more faith in the following season to air weekly. They now know audiences are hooked on the series and want to watch it. It is just a shame that they didn’t have the same faith in Season 1 for weekly releases because there is a chance Fallout could have been an even bigger series as it generated more discussion and theories and built viewers over weeks. Fallout is streaming now on Prime Video.


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