Web series will determine whether YouTube players will embrace binge-viewing as distribution model
Netflix may have created a binge-viewing monster.
Beginning Thursday, Machinima has offered up all 10 episodes in the second season of Web series “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” embracing the way streaming services like Netflix have rolled out episodes of its own series, such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” Binge viewing is said to have helped AMC’s “Breaking Bad” boost viewership on Netflix and VOD, and online networks like Machinima hope the same will happen for their own shows.
The first season of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” produced by Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, was offered up as weekly installments. WB did the same for online series like Bryan Singer’s “H+” and McG’s “Aim High,” while Microsoft took the weekly approach for “Halo: Forward Unto Dawn,” leading up to the launch of “Halo 4.”
With Netflix essentially changing viewing habits for streamed content on everything from TVs to smartphones, the success of the “Mortal Kombat” strategy could well help determine whether upcoming series from Amazon, Microsoft and other content producers take the same roll-it-out-at-once approach.
“Our audience isn’t shy,” says Machinima chairman-CEO Allen DeBevoise of the mostly younger male demo that turns to the site for entertainment. “They tell us what content they want and how they want to watch and interact with it. This is why we decided to deliver all of ‘Mortal Kombat: Legacy II’ at once. There is no need to wait to see what happens next. They can enjoy everything back to back. With companies like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Go as destinations where consumers can watch multiple episodes consecutively, binge-viewing is a major movement in online video. We’re a part of this movement, and we expect this to make for an amazing and extremely engaging user experience.”
Naturally, Machinima hopes that having viewers spend more time on its site will attract more advertisers.
Machinima, however, isn’t the only one switching to the new binge-viewing approach.
Earlier this month, Yahoo tapped into binge-viewing behavior with the bow of eight shortform comedy series. Shows include “Ghost Ghirls,” from Jack Black’s Electric Dynamite and Shine America; “Tiny Commando,” from Ed Helms and Jacob Fleisher; and “Losing It With John Stamos.”
The first season of “Mortal Kombat,” a live-action series based on Midway’s popular fighting game, was watched by 70 million after its release in 2011, making it one of the most watched Web series, and Machinima hopes binge viewing will elevate the viewership for season two.
Kevin Tancharoen returns as director and co-writer of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy II” alongside scribes Josh Baizer and Marshall Johnson (“Dead Loss”).
The cast includes Harry Shum Jr. (“Glee”) as the warlord adviser Kuai Liang; Casper Van Dien (“Starship Troopers”) as Johnny Cage; Brian Tee (“The Wolverine”) as Liu Kang; Mark Dacascos (“Cradle 2 the Grave “) as Kung Lao; Ian Anthony Dale (“Hawaii Five-O”) as ninja Scorpion; and Cary Tagawa as sorcerer Shang Tsung.
Lance Sloane (“Act of Valor”) and Tancharoen produced the series.
The first “Mortal Kombat” game was released in 1992. The franchise has sold more than 35 million copies and spun off two films, TV shows, toys and comicbooks. A 2011 game, created by Ed Boon and NetherRealm Studios, rebooted the franchise and sold more than 5 million copies.