Show Launch Strategy: How to Determine Your Episode Release Cadence
March 31, 2021
You’ve spent countless hours crafting and perfecting your new show. Now, it’s time for the fun part — planning the perfect show launch. But launching episodic content requires more strategy than simply releasing content into the wild.
Think about it this way: you’ve probably been involved with a product launch at your company. And that’s great because “launching” is essentially an awareness campaign for your newest product — your show.
But before you launch, you need to answer one important question: Do you drop your series all at once or episode by episode over time?
This is a dilemma every showrunner faces, but rest assured that there’s really no right or wrong way to release a show. It all boils down to the experience you want to provide your audience.
Sydney Rutman, Development Producer here at Wistia, shares her perspective on show releases.
“Release cadence is a huge question for most show creators. The reality is, there’s no one way to launch a show. You need to think about what’s going to work for your particular series. If you release your series all at once, you’re giving your audience the opportunity to binge it all at once. It means that your audience is going to be spending a lot of time with your brand in a condensed period. It also means you have one big launch moment and a long tail to promote the episodes of the series. If you release your episodes over time, you give your fans and industry conversation pieces at regular intervals. But, that means you’re going to need to have the resources and bandwidth to keep up with a rolling production and promotion schedule.”Sydney Rutman
Development Producer, Wistia
Here are a few other considerations that illustrate the different pros and cons of each release approach:
- Think about how you would want to engage with the type of content you’re releasing. Is this something you would want to binge on a long car ride? Is it a story that would be fun to tune into every week because the story is so juicy that each week you can’t wait to hear what happens next week? Is it something you expect to be ongoing and you tune into occasionally or “catch up on”?
- Take your content for a test drive. Is this a resource that would be helpful to give your audience all at once? Is it something that would be difficult to binge (it’s tiresome to watch/listen all at once)?
- Consider what kind of behavior you want to drive with your audience. Do you want them coming back to you at regular intervals, or do you want to create a big moment with a lot of content all at once?
Ok, so there’s no right or wrong way to release your episodic content. How can you navigate the best approach? Here are a few questions that you can use to decide on a launch strategy:
- Does the show have a defined start and end? An ongoing show (like a podcast) may benefit from a regular release schedule to keep conversations flowing over time.
- Do you have the resources to support a rolling production schedule? If you’re a small team, one large release may be your best bet to get the show shipped.
- What experience are you trying to create for your audience? Do you want people to spend a lot of time with your brand over a short window, or do you want to build repeat engagement over time?
- Will releasing episodes over time enhance or diminish the experience? Do you want to prioritize making a big splash out of the gate or building a community and engagement over time?
- Is your show very topical or relevant right now? If your show covers current events or newsworthy topics, then releasing at regular intervals means that your show will stay relevant. If your show covers a story or a topic that has no relationship to current events, it won’t matter as much.
- How does this fit into your overall content strategy? Think about how your show and individual episodes fit into your overall content plan.
Release the kraken, er, content
Remember — the launch and distribution of episodic content can be as creative as making it. Think about your show content and how you want it to be experienced. And remember to always keep your audience top-of-mind when deciding on a strategy.