A common criticism leveled against some of Netflix’s original programming — particularly Marvel shows like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage — is that seasons have too many episodes and are filled with inconsequential material, resulting in a slow-paced viewing experience.

During her recent appearance at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Netflix’s VP of original programming Cindy Holland addressed the phenomenon known as “Netflix bloat”, explaining that in many cases, the number of episodes in a Netflix season is dictated by the deal that Netflix initially struck when the project was picked up.

“In some of the earlier negotiations and deals that we did with third-party studios, we were sort of hamstrung a little bit by the convention of the 13-episode cable series pattern,” Holland pointed out. “And if you look at the content that we’ve been making out of Netflix Studios and even with third-party partners now, often the seasons are generally no more than 10 episodes.”

Netflix

This explains why many of Netflix’s older shows, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, consist of 13-episode seasons, while more recent series from outside studios, like Legendary’s Lost in Space and Sony’s The Crown, have had shorter 10-episodes seasons (though that hasn’t necessarily made them immune from criticism regarding slow pacing).

However, Holland did note that because Netflix allows creators more freedom than cable or broadcast networks, “It’s up to the creator and the pace that they are creating intentionally for their characters.” This would explain why certain 13-episode seasons (Jessica Jones season 1) have been much better paced than others (Jessica Jones season 2), as it’s up to creators to fit the story they’re trying to tell into Netflix’s episodic format.

Holland also addressed Marvel’s recent seasons, stating that there’s still potential for more spinoffs. “The original agreement with Marvel Television was for four series, plus The Defenders miniseries. We added The Punisher along the way. And there’s always an ongoing discussion as to whether we might spin off a couple of characters into additional properties.”

Here’s hoping one of those “additional properties” is Moon Knight!


Follow me on Twitter at @Nick_Steinberg