Esquire Network, the channel you could be forgiven for thinking was just an extended beer commercial, is testing out a new business model. On the heels of the announcement that USA will debut season two episodes of Playing House a week in advance of their broadcast, Deadline reports that Esquire will become the first network to follow the Netflix model of premiering an entire season of a series at once.
The Short Game, a docu-series about the world of competitive elementary school-aged golfers—itself based on a 2013 documentary from Netflix—will be the first cable show wherein the entire season will be available for streaming prior to any episodes airing. On December 22, the complete first season will be accessible via Esquire’s mobile app Esquire TV NOW, online at its website, and on demand through multiple cable partners. Only after it has been available for nearly a month will the network actually begin airing episodes, on January 20.
Akin to an untested young child athlete being expected to succeed competitively by aggressive and publicity-hungry parents, Esquire is hoping this new business model will become a financially successful method for the future distribution of traditional TV shows. The decision seems largely motivated by the fact that on-demand consumption is already the primary way that the network’s original programming is being watched. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that commercial networks are also big fans of the way that on-demand viewing bars audiences from fast-forwarding through commercials, the way that watching shows recorded on DVR permits.
The Short Game joins the network’s other kiddie sports show, Friday Night Tykes. And while Esquire swears it doesn’t have a “favorite” child, the network was heard muttering under its breath that this new kid better start pulling its weight, because that first child was such a disappointment.