Everybody wants to be like Netflix, since Netflix can apparently do no wrong when it comes to entertainment. But since not every network can borrow a billion dollars to pump out a seemingly endless supply of high-quality programming, they have to figure out other ways of mimicking the streaming giant. NBC will be heading into similar binge-watching waters when it premieres its upcoming summer drama Aquarius, which will unload its entire episode run on the Internet as its first episode hits the airwaves.
Here’s how the rollout will happen. Aquarius, which serves as David Duchovny’s return to broadcast TV, is debuting on NBC on Thursday, May 28. To coincide with it, the network will also be releasing all of Season 1’s 13 episodes on NBC.com, on the NBC mobile app, and through their VOD service. So if you watch the first episode and absolutely adore it, there will be nothing to stop you from continuing to watch the rest of the season. Unless, of course, you don’t have access to a computer, a mobile device, or NBC’s VOD service.
But there is a slight catch, as the full run will only be available online for the first four weeks of the season. To balance that, though, the producers have actually planned out two minimally distinct cuts of each episode, with the TV version being more suitable for everyday audiences, and the streaming version will be more intense.
Here’s how NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt put it, according to THR, which makes me think that maybe this could be the first in a line of similar moves by NBC, if not more networks in the future.
With Aquarius we have the opportunity to push some new boundaries to give our audience something no broadcast network has done before. 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.
This is indeed the first time a broadcast network has done something as arguably revolutionary as this. The embrace of Internet streaming is nothing new, as many channels put their series’ episodes up on their dedicated websites the next day, or make deals with sites like Hulu and Amazon. (CBS’ site usually has their episodes up on the same night that they air.) But giving audiences complete access to something that hasn’t aired yet is indeed a new and interesting tactic. Plus, NBC will probably be willing to flaunt what kind of ratings they bring in on the streaming side, unlike the numbers-hiding Netflix.
Of course, it makes sense that this isn’t normal behavior for networks, as production schedules usually don’t allow for an entire season to be filmed before it airs, so many shows wouldn’t even be able to air things ahead of time. But that doesn’t mean series like Arrow and The Flash couldn’t stream small sets of early episodes to bring in potential viewers for later arcs.
In any case, check out the first preview to Aquarius below to see if you’ll be interested in watching Duchovny chase down Charles Manson.
Aquarius will air its two-hour series premiere on Thursday, May 28, at 9 p.m. ET. How will you be watching?