I can’t be the only one who stayed up until the wee hours of the morning watching the new episodes of Orange is the New Black. Netflix released the third season of the award-winning show on June 11, six hours early. This genius and strategic move by Netflix created a flurry of excitement on Twitter from fans.
Netflix announced the early release at OrangeCon as the cast was celebrating the new season. It became available around 9 PM Eastern, 6 PM Pacific, just in time for New Yorkers like me who were contemplating sleep to turn on Netflix, and for Californians to cancel their dinner plans and head home to the couch.
Surprising fans with the early release was not only smart because of the timing of the release, but it also allowed for an additional layer of anticipation from fans. It is to be expected that die-hard OITNB fans would take to Twitter to express their excitement when the show finally came back, but the element of surprise triggered a burst of tweets from fans. This buzz helped spread the word about the release of the new season. #OITNB trended on Twitter within minutes of the release.
The show’s talent also took to social to inform fans of the early release and drive buzz.
Typically, programs on television leverage Twitter for live-tweeting to drive buzz and awareness for the show. Exposure to TV tweets has been shown to encourage viewers to take action, whether they watch, search for, or share content about the show. In the case of shows that are exclusively on Netflix and are released a full season at a time, they have to find ways to use Twitter outside of live-tweeting premiere episodes to promote the show. Orange is the New Black found their way in. Due to the excitement and the element of surprise, #OITNB was used over 360K times in the first weekend after the release. Comparatively, there were only 319K #GameOfThrones tweets during the epic finale on Sunday.
With the restrictions Netflix and Orange is the New Black face considering all viewers watch at their own pace, they definitely figured out how to leverage Twitter to drive tune-in.
Smart move, Netflix.