Having immediate access to an entire season of a must-watch series is a definite perk of Netflix, but the binge-watching habit spawned by the film and TV streaming giant is also leading to a new issue: audiences who are starting to demand new content — sometimes just weeks later.
At a series of panels in Pasedena, Calif. as part of the recent Television Critics Association press tour, Netflix introduced its upcoming lineup and casts of some of its most popular shows shared insights from behind the scenes.
Netflix pledges to launch 600 hours of original programming in 2016 (compared with 450 hours in 2015), including existing series, original films, kids content, documentaries and comedy specials.
Members streamed 42.5 billion hours of video in 2015, the company said, up from 29 billion hours a year earlier.
Many creators faced an onslaught about what fans can expect from upcoming seasons of hot shows, some only released within the last few months.
With the instant satisfaction of streaming, audiences can face a void after having quickly consumed an entire season and then realizing there are no more episodes to watch — which doesn't happen as often when a program follows a more rigid, week-to-week release schedule.
For instance, it's only been about a month since the wildly popular, true crime documentary series Making a Murderer debuted.
Already, filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos — who spent a decade working on the project — said they are fielding questions about whether there will be a season two. And if so, when?
The 10-part series follows the case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was exonerated after spending 18 years in jail for sexual assault, and is then accused of murder shortly after filing a lawsuit against authorities for the devastating earlier mistake.
Neither the filmmakers nor Netflix would confirm whether there would be a second season of Making a Murderer, but Demos vowed: "If there are significant developments, we'll be there."
They're not the only ones being coy about a sophomore season. Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, who launched their comedy series hit Master of None in November, were also hit by repeated questions about the show's future.
The co-creators said it's too early to talk about ideas for another season. According to Yang, a lot of personal experience went into the show and he wants to get more life experience before attempting another run.
For his part, Ansari said he needs to "refill" his head so that a new season lives up to the first.
Returning shows include:
- House of Cards – March 4
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – April 15
- Grace and Frankie – May 6
- Orange is the New Black – June 17
- Jessica Jones
New shows include:
- Love from Judd Apatow – Feb. 19
- Flaked from Will Arnett – March 11
- The Ranch from Ashton Kutcher – April 1
- Lost and Found Music Studios – April 1
- Kong: King of the Apes – April 15
- Marseille – May 5
- Word Party – June 3
- Stranger Things – July 15
- The Get Down from Baz Luhrmann – Aug. 12
"We have a bunch of ideas bouncing around in our heads," Ansari said at the Master of None presentation, but didn't share any further specifics.
In the meantime, other shows have had enough time to refresh and are at work on new episodes.
After its initial release in March 2015, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the comedy series starring Ellie Kemper and created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, is set to debut its second season in April. It's also been renewed for a third.
'She's got deeper emotional and life issues and that's more what this season is about," said Fey.
Optimism amid global growth
Amid this apparently growing appetite for streaming series, Netflix issued an optimistic forecast for the next few months.
In a letter to investors issued Tuesday, CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells said the company surpassed 75 million subscribers on Jan. 1.
The company recently revealed it has expanded to 130 additional countries (for a total of 190 worldwide, with China being a notable exception) and forecast adding 6.1 million more subscribers by the end of March.
However, amid the aggressive international expansion, Netflix also reported slower than expected growth this quarter in the U.S., the company's largest market.