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More 'Black Mirror' Is Coming to Netflix, but You Won't Be Able Binge on It

The streaming service will likely release the series into mini seasons ... like TV.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Great news for people who like to watch really great TV shows: Netflix will produce new 12 episodes of “Black Mirror,” the dark and provocative tech-meets-“Twilight Zone” series.

But unlike most other Netflix original productions, you likely won’t be able watch all of the new shows over the course of a long weekend. At least not right away: Netflix is likely to stagger the release of the new shows into mini “seasons.”

In a press release announcing the new episodes, the streaming service said production on the series would start later this year and that the “premiere date and episode rollout will be announced at a later date.” Asked to clarify what that meant, Netflix rep Jonathan Friedland said the company “will roll them out in groups that make sense for the story.”

Friedland wouldn’t elaborate, but here’s an informed guess as to what that means: “Black Mirror”’s original seven episodes, which first ran on the British Channel 4 network, aired as two three-episode seasons and a Christmas special over the course of three years. Netflix seems to be contemplating releasing the 12 episodes it has bought along the same lines.

You could argue that this is a change from Netflix’s tradition, kicked off in 2013 with “House of Cards,” of streaming all of its original shows at a time, so that subscribers could watch as many as they want, when they want. My hunch, though, is that Netflix will say that’s not the case — after all, just this week they were promoting the merits of binge-watching (and releasing).

Instead, it looks like what Netflix really wants to say is that it bought multiple seasons of “Black Mirror” and hasn’t gotten around to figuring out when those will be available.

This also isn’t the first time Netflix has released original shows in batches. It has done so with kids’ programming like DreamWorks Animation’s “Turbo.” And earlier this year, when the company announced it was producing the “The Ranch,” a comedy starring Ashton Kutcher, it said it would release the show “ten episodes at a time, twice a year.”

As Netflix’s appetite for original shows grows — and that appetite may grow even faster if the TV networks continue to steer some of their reruns to competitors like Amazon and Hulu — you may see even more of this, since the company may want to make bigger bets by ordering more episodes at a time.

Meantime, if you haven’t watched “Black Mirror” yet, now is an excellent time to acquaint yourself with the series. You can see the first six episodes on Netflix now; one of them is particularly resonant this month.

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