An Empirical Investigation of a Digital Platform’s Release Strategy for Serialized Content
41 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2023 Last revised: 22 Sep 2023
Date Written: July 4, 2023
Using data from an online-book platform, we investigate three release strategies of serialized digital content: simultaneous (releasing the entire content of a book at once), sequential (releasing the content of a book sequentially over time), and hybrid release. These release strategies impact the platform’s revenue through two opposing effects: binge consumption and product exploration. Simultaneous release of a book induces binge consumption, which gets consumers hooked on to it, which then leads to a larger number of its chapters being purchased. Sequential release of a book induces consumers to visit the platform more often to purchase its newly released chapters, which increases their exploration of other books. We estimate a model of consumers’ platform visits and purchases that allows for both these effects. Our counterfactual analysis shows that sequential release yields higher revenue than simultaneous release. Platform revenue is maximized with hybrid release in which first 60% chapters of books are released simultaneously, and the rest are released sequentially. Hybrid release turns binge consumption and product exploration into complementary effects - simultaneous release of the first 60% chapters of a book induces its binge consumption which gets consumers hooked on to it; sequential release of its remaining chapters keeps consumers coming back to the platform, resulting in them exploring other books.
Keywords: release strategy, serialized content, digital platform
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