When the Battlestar Galactica reboot arrives, it will likely do so with a release strategy unprecedented in the history of television. Preparations are well underway for the reboot, which will be coming to Peacock in the distant future. The reboot is being helmed by executive producer Sam Esmail of Mr. Robot fame and he seems excited more than anything to try an experimental release strategy that could change the way viewers consume television.
Outside of the traditional television landscape, streaming services have generally leaned toward one of two release strategies for their content. Either they follow the lead of broadcast television and release one or two episodes a week, or they dump the entirety of a season’s worth of television on the audience at once. Each release strategy has its pros and cons, but they are the tried-and-true methods of getting series out to consumers. Peacock generally favors the all-at-once release, with scripted shows like Brave New World and the Saved by the Bell reboot seeing their entire first seasons distributed at once.
For the Battlestar Galactica reboot, however, Esmail has something else in mind. While speaking to Collider about the project, he unveiled tentative plans to release the show in a way that is responsive to the storylines taking place within the series. That could mean releasing multiple episodes at once, but not all of them, or just releasing one at a time. It could also mean tinkering with the lengths of certain episodes to serve the story better. See Esmail’s full comments on the release strategy below:
When I spoke to Peacock about it, and Mike Lesslie who’s an amazing writer – he’s the one that’s showrunning and writing the pilot – the one thing we got excited by is do we release an episode a week, do we binge them all? For me it was like let’s get in there and tell the right story and it will tell us how many episodes. We may dump three episodes in a row because it’s a three-episode-long battle sequence that needs to be dropped in a row even though they’re three signifying chapters, and maybe each chapter is switching a point of view within that battle sequence. There may be a 20-minute episode that’s the backstory of one of the characters that gets dropped right after that.
So we’re gonna really experiment with form on this one because Battlestar, again given the rich mythology that’s in there already, we want to hit every nook and cranny and because of the format, because of Peacock and streaming – and they’ve been such great partners with us in trying to experiment – we want to get in the writers room and let the story tell us how it wants to be released.
It’s hard to say how such a release would be received, as it’s something that has never really been attempted before. But it was clearly something that was discussed when the idea of rebooting Battlestar Galactica first came up. There is a danger in trying this – audiences have been conditioned to either expect all content at once or consistent content at a consistent time at a regular duration. A new strategy could alienate audiences.
There’s also the question of when this strategy will actually come to pass. Esmail expressed interest in starting filming by the end of 2021, but COVID-19 may make that difficult, especially since Esmail wants to employ a large production for the series. The most recent iteration of the series went off the air in 2009 and it could be some time before it comes back. When it does, Battlestar Galactica may be ushering in a new era of television in an unexpected way.