Maybe the only thing better than a new season of “Orange is the New Black” is a surprise early release of the new season.
Yes, season three of “Orange” is already online, slightly ahead of schedule.
Netflix surprised super-fans of the series by releasing the new batch of episodes around 9 p.m. Eastern time Thursday. The episodes were expected to come online at 3 a.m. Eastern on Friday.
“Season 3 is out on early release,” Netflix’s website proclaimed, as if the new season was an inmate at the women’s prison where the show is set.
Attention inmates! Orange Is the New Black season 3 is out on early release. #OrangeCon
— Netflix US (@netflix) June 12, 2015
The announcement was made at #OrangeCon, an event for the show’s fans in New York that featured appearances by cast members and panel discussions.
Various cast members encouraged their followers to start streaming a few hours early.
“The wait is over. Get some,” tweeted Lolita Foster, who plays a corrections officer named Maxwell.
— Lolita Foster (@WCG_Lolita) June 12, 2015
“It’s true! Season 3 is available NOW! Go! Watch! Enjoy!” wrote Kate Mulgrew, who plays Red.
— Kate Mulgrew (@TheKateMulgrew) June 12, 2015
For Netflix, the surprise was a way to further spread the word and heighten anticipation about the new season.
And the stunt worked: “OITNB,” the abbreviation for the show’s title, was trending on Twitter within minutes.
Fans by and large seemed thrilled: “Bawling my eyes out because OITNB is released early,” one wrote.
“My mom heard the OITNB theme song from the living room and literally screamed,” wrote another fan.
A Netflix spokeswoman declined to comment on the staging of the early release: “I’m just going to let people enjoy the experience.”
“Orange” has become one of the streaming service’s tentpole shows.
Netflix has already renewed the show for a fourth season. At the New York event, one of the panelists said filming will begin Monday.