Disney, Disney, Disney…
As long as you continue to make baffling decisions we will continue to call you out in hopes that whoever is responsible sees things from a different perspective.
Disney Channel’s Secrets of Sulphur Springs was a huge hit last year with kids and adults alike because it treated kids with respect and tackled important racial issues all while providing an exciting, spooky mystery. Unlike the rest of Disney Channel’s slate, the series has no use for potty humor. Showrunner Tracey Thompson’s previous experience includes writer stints at General Hospital, Young & The Restless, and All My Children so it should come as no surprise that she’s adept at writing serial television.
Disney’s Inconsistent Scheduling
Disney has received a lot of criticism in the past year for providing no rhyme or reasons to their episode releases. While other streaming services follow the industry standard release pattern of “next day episodes” of shows, Disney+ releases episodes whenever they feel like it and make it impossible for fans and subscribers to know what to expect and when. The plans are also sometimes a mystery until weeks before they stream.
Some Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and National Geographic series see weekly episode releases, some receive monthly batches of episodes (although never a consistent number of episodes per batch), some receive episode batch releases every few months, some series don’t see any episodes released until the full season has aired, some receive initial batches that see Disney+ streaming episodes weeks ahead of linear TV only to fall behind a month later as TV continues to air episodes, and in rare cases, the entire season is released before it’s even aired.
How Disney Streamed Sulphur Springs Seasons 1-2
Disney Channel brought the series to air after Disney+ passed. This was one of the best decisions Disney Channel made while also being one of the worst early decisions made at Disney+. Feeling regrets after season 1 premiered, they began a bizarre release schedule. It started with a 5-episode batch on Disney+ the same day episode 8 aired. For the rest of the 11-episode season they released episodes weekly on Disney+, 3 episodes behind linear. Many speculated the unique release suggested it would move to Disney+ for a potential season 2 and just air weekly. It didn’t take long before Disney Channel announced the series had been renewed for 2nd season, but it would remain on Disney Channel.
The press release announcing the season 2 premiere in January 2022 said that “an initial batch of episodes will also be rolled out on Disney+ and the MVPD VOD platforms around the linear launch.” As usual, Disney’s release strategy is a mystery and this didn’t make much sense versus just providing a date and episode count.
When January 2022’s Disney+ PR list went out people were disappointed to see that Sulphur Springs season 2’s “initial batch” was not scheduled in the two weeks of January following the premiere, so we assumed it would release in February. Then, on January 13th, one day before Disney Channel’s season 2 premiere, d23.com posted an article called “5 Things You Need to Know About Season 2 of Secrets of Sulphur Springs.” Buried at the bottom, the final sentence reads, “The season will premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, January 19, and will be available in its entirety.” This went entirely unnoticed to the press and most fans so news did not spread.
Disney marketing has been a concern of our website for quite some time. We don’t think they make good decisions. This series is a huge hit and could be even bigger if it was promoted properly. This season 2 release information should have been known when the January press list went out. Adding to the confusion is the purpose behind dropping the full season months before it completed airing.
Disney Created A Spoilers Problem
By releasing the entire season shortly after episode 1 aired on TV, Disney assured spoilers were everywhere and ruined the experience for people who still watched via the traditional linear schedule. Some families don’t have Disney+, so those young fans were subjected to information that disrupted the mysteries the show is built upon.
We think nothing says it better than the fact that young star of the show, Elle Graham, was forced to plead with Disney+ watchers via her Instagram (images courtesy Twitter user @_grxnttt_) to not ruin the show for others. Disney should not be putting the cast in that position. As great as the show is, being forced to watch it quickly on the streaming service so as to avoid spoilers is now how I would have chosen to watch. The bizarre obsession with doing anything but next day episodes on Disney+ needs to end.
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.