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Why Only 5 Episodes Of The Lincoln Lawyer? It's A New Netflix Strategy

When "The Lincoln Lawyer" made its series debut on Netflix in 2022, some were surprised the streamer had green-lit the adaptation. After all, part of the story – based on a beloved series of novels by Michael Connelly – had already been adapted into a feature film with superstar Matthew McConaughey in the title role. Yet the new series, co-created by TV legend David E. Kelley, has brought fresh energy and unique perspectives to the tale of Mickey Haller, a sublimely clever attorney who runs his legal practice out of his classic Lincoln Town Car.

Star Manuel Garcia-Ruflo has arguably managed to make the role originated by McConaughey his own over the course of the series' first season. And while his work in Season 2 is even stronger, some fans might be frustrated that the season is arriving in two parts. Perhaps more jarring is that the first half of the season consists of only five episodes, with most of those episodes coming in at just under an hour. This leaves series diehards with less than five hours worth of binging on hand, and a month-long wait before the second five episodes of the season drop.

That gap between episode releases is, of course, part of a new strategy crafted by Netflix in recent years, with the streamer seizing on a shrewd way to have its binging cake and eat it too. And no, "The Lincoln Lawyer" is not the first series Netflix has taken this split-season approach with.

Netflix has been strategically splitting seasons on quite a few shows lately

As frustrating as Netflix's split-season release strategy can be for fans, the approach is not without a certain logic in a streaming landscape that's become increasingly overcrowded. If Netflix has learned anything from its many competitors, it's that the binge model it pioneered is not without its drawbacks. In particular, said model makes it easier for subscribers to drop in with a short-term subscription, binge a show they're interested in, and immediately cancel. Splitting a single season of a show over concurrent months encourages subscribers to stick around a little longer.

The approach will likely work in regard to the two-part release of "The Lincoln Lawyer" as well, with recent history showing the approach has been more than effective for Netflix. That proof comes in the streaming numbers for prior series the streamer has taken the split-season approach with, a list that is impressive to say the least, with blockbuster hits like "Ozark," "You," and "Stranger Things" topping the charts.

It should be noted that for "Ozark" and "Stranger Things," the approach may have been more out of necessity than a desire to keep people subscribed. Netflix bosses bumped up the episode order for the final season of the former, and the latter came through with a fourth season in which several episodes clocked in at well north of an hour in length — changes that required additional production time.

"You" is a bit of an outlier in that equation, however, coming in on average in both episode count and length. But considering how big a hit the split fourth season of the drama was, it's easy enough to see why Netflix is continuing to rewrite its binging playbook with "The Lincoln Lawyer."