'Fallout' TV show copying Netflix could be a big mistake for Prime Video

A first look at Amazon's Fallout TV series coming to Prime Video
(Image credit: Amazon/Prime Video)

The "Fallout" TV show from Prime Video is a mere few weeks away. We've seen one pretty incredible trailer and a clip that dropped yesterday has me very excited for the eight-episode first season. 

In fact, there's a real chance that this Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy-led adaptation of the beloved video game series could be one of the best shows of the year. Last year's adaptation of "The Last of Us" from HBO proved that video game adaptations can be prestige TV and it's tough not to draw comparisons between the two shows.

Unfortunately, Prime Video is copying Netflix rather than HBO for its release model for "Fallout." Instead of doing a weekly release like HBO does for its prestige TV, Amazon is dumping all eight episodes on its streaming service at once. That could be a killer mistake for the show's long-term success — whether it's good or not.

Weekly releases vs. binge model — why it matters

For those who are unfamiliar, there are basically two ways for streaming services to release a TV show.

First, you can do the typical weekly release schedule, where one episode drops per week. There are now variants on this model, including one famously employed by Prime Video where a few episodes drop at once to start but then the show only releases one at a time until the season/series finale.

This model has its benefits. First, it works from a narrative perspective, building anticipation for what's coming next dealing out the story in measured doses. Second, it allows a show to drive the cultural conversation.

Shogun poster

(Image credit: FX)

A prime example of this, right now, is "Shōgun." The 10-part miniseries epic about the rise of a fictional (but based on true events) Shōgun rising to power in Japan has been the clear hit of the 2024 TV landscape and by doling out episodes weekly, it keeps the show in the conversation, which has worked to its advantage. Building our anticipation for what comes next makes us ready to be amazed by the next episode.

I'd argue that if the show had been released all at once, it'd have been more forgettable. In fact, there's already one excellent TV show from this year we forgot about because it dropped all eight episodes at once.

Prime Video already tried the binge model and missed this year

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" debuted earlier this year on Prime Video and it's still one of my favorite shows of the year so far. When I reviewed it for Tom's Guide, I wrote, "the most enjoyable show I've watched so far in 2024." And honestly, I think it still is. But it's also probably one of the least talked-about hits of 2024.

For what it's worth, this show was a hit. In addition to our positive review, it hit 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and according to Amazon was one of the top five biggest U.S. streaming debuts on Prime Video ever (h/t Deadline).

But think about when the last time you heard someone talk about the show. Was it in the past week? The past month? 

Granted, some of that's down to the show simply not quite dominating even on its debut weekend — Netflix's "Griselda" was the top new release that week according to Nielsen ratings and "True Detective: Night Country" was still in full swing. But even thinking about those other two shows in comparison, I feel like "True Detective," with its weekly release schedule, was the one dominating the conversation even with "Griselda" and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" both being highly rated and highly watched. The common denominator there? Both those shows dropped all their episodes at once.

Outlook: I'm worried for "Fallout"

Full disclosure: I am pretty confident "Fallout" will be good. It's also not like a binge model release always backfires. "Stranger Things" has famously been a massive hit and dominated the conversation despite its episodes releasing all at once. "The Bear" is beloved and Hulu used the binge model as well. Looking into the future slightly, Netflix's "3 Body Problem" is going to drop all at once on Thursday (March 21) and I thought it was the best show of 2024 so far.

But therein lies the rub. I thought "3 Body Problem" was the best show of 2024 so far. Since then, more episodes of "Shōgun" have come out and now that's the show freshest in my mind. And that's a problem for other shows because "Shōgun" is also really good. So even though "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" and "3 Body Problem" are in contention for my best shows of 2024, and likely other critics besides, they're getting left to the wayside. 

Is it fair that they're being overshadowed? Perhaps not, but that's the reality of the TV landscape. I worry that "Fallout" will ultimately be overlooked due to its eight-episode season 1 dropping all at once, regardless of how good it is. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened this year.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.