Amazon enters the original programming game Nov. 15, when the first few episodes of Alpha House — a foul-mouthed political comedy from the mind of Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau — officially premiere on the retailer’s main site. The series stars John Goodman, Mark Consuelos, Matt Malloy, and Clark Johnson as four Republican senators who share the same D.C. rental. Bill Murray makes a memorable cameo in Alpha‘s pilot, already available for free viewing on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video; future episodes will feature even more boldfaced names, including Cynthia Nixon and Wanda Sykes as a pair of formidable Democratic senators, Amy Sedaris as the wife of Malloy’s Nevada senator, and Haley Joel Osment as a reporter from Reno.
Though Amazon’s chief rival Netflix famously follows a simultaneous release model for its original series, Amazon has a different distribution strategy. As of the 15th, the website will offer the first three episodes of Alpha for free. Subsequent episodes will be released week by week — and available only to Prime Instant Video subscribers.
Why stretch out distribution in this manner? “Releasing all episodes at once delays launch and doesn’t allow customers to binge view any sooner,” Amazon Studios head Roy Price explains to EW via email. “Also, it makes it hard to talk about a show with your friends because you never know how many episodes they’ve watched — and that’s part of the fun of a TV show. On the latter point, at first it was a hunch but then we confirmed it by looking at social conversation on Twitter and Facebook: shows that are binge-released tend to have unusually rapid, sometimes precipitous declines in public conversation.”
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