‘Arcane’ Enters Netflix’s Top 10 List With Its Unusual Episode Formatting

Debuting this past weekend, League of Legends animated series Arcane has already gotten rave reviews from viewers, and the show has entered the overall Netflix top 10 list at #9. It’s #6 for just TV shows, and I expect that to rise as old offerings like You and Squid Game continue to fall.

But what strikes me as highly unusual about Arcane is how the show is being distributed. Rather than having its season premiere all at once for immediate binging like…nearly every other Netflix series, it is being released in three episode chunks over the next two weeks. The next three episodes will arrive Saturday, November 13, and then the final three November 20.

Nearly every other major streaming service out there has decided on a weekly release format for its series, as because they don’t have the overall depth of content as Netflix, they want people to hang onto their subscriptions for longer, and keep coming back each week for shows. This is true of Disney Plus, Hulu, Apple Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, literally everything, with very few exceptions. It also drags out the conversation about these series past a single weekend, a problem Netflix frequently runs into.

Generally speaking, most audiences seem to prefer the “watch as much as you want, when you want” Netflix binge model, which is why it’s unusual to see Netflix deviate from that. The only instances I can remember Netflix doing this is with its reality shows, which given the competitive nature of those series, binging them doesn’t make much sense, so we see shows like The Circle release batches once a week and then have a separate finale show.


The other case is sometimes we see this happen with foreign shows, as I’ve seen some Asian productions do weekly release episodes, which must be baked into the terms of the licensing deal with Netflix.

But Arcane falls into none of those categories, making it entirely unique in this space. I cannot find any commentary by Riot or Tencent or anyone who made the show as to why this format was chosen, so it strikes me that perhaps Netflix is simply experimenting with this release format for a “normal” show, perhaps to measure social conversation over time, to see if this is something they might want to do with other series. I can’t think of another reason its rolled out this way. Sometimes you’ll have shows with long breaks in between episode batches, like the new Masters of the Universe show, but that’s not really the same thing.

So far, it appears to be working. Viewer hype is very high for Arcane, and now that can potentially be extended over three weekends, not just one. That may also mean an extended stay on the top 10 chart as a result. We’ll see if Netflix takes anything away from this, and starts doing it with more series going forward.

Update: The staggering appears to be on Riot’s side to coincide with a series of events in the game/esports scene itself. Impressive that they talked Netflix into this format, given everything I’ve said above.

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