We may never know the exact statistics for Netflix viewership, but that doesn’t mean the streaming service isn’t open to sharing data — if it helps them out. Today, Netflix released specific information relating to how long subscribers needed to watch a show in order to become hooked on the season. A few notes:
• “Hooked,” in regard to this study, means how much of a show a viewer had to watch to finish the entire season. For instance, “BoJack Horseman” viewers who watched through Episode 5 were significantly more likely to finish the season than those who watched less.
• 70 percent of viewers who watched the “hooked” episode went on to watch the entire first season of the respective program.
• Netflix labeled this as “global data,” drawn between January 2015 – July 2015 in Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and US and between April 2015 – July 2015 for Australia and New Zealand.
Of course, the release of this information ultimately serves a purpose for Netflix. The numbers help illustrate the importance of binge-watching — a viewing model Netflix pioneered and rely upon to attract audiences — most notably by the finding that pilot episodes never “hooked” fans.
“Given the precious nature of primetime slots on traditional TV, a series pilot is arguably the most important point in the life of the show,” Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix, said in a statement. “However, in our research of more than 20 shows across 16 markets, we found that no one was ever hooked on the pilot. This gives us confidence that giving our members all episodes at once is more aligned with how fans are made.”
Viewers have to watch more than just one episode, an idea that bucks traditional sampling, especially the kind often employed by audiences at the onset of the television season — aka, right now. Netflix wants you to know: a) that you have to watch more than just the first episode to know if you like a show; b) that by releasing shows all at once, they have a better chance to be seen because of the binge model; and c) releasing shows on Netflix is in everyone’s best long-term interest — be it Netflix originals or network shows — as binge-watching leads to more fans.
Now, onto the numbers. Below you’ll find a list of all the shows provided to Indiewire by the Netflix study, as well as the episode which “hooked” viewers.
“Arrow” – Episode 8*
“Bates Motel” – Episode 2*
“Better Call Saul” – Episode 4*
“Bloodline” – Episode 4
“BoJack Horseman” – Episode 5
“Breaking Bad” – Episode 2*
“Dexter” – Episode 3*
“Gossip Girl” – Episode 3
“Grace & Frankie” – Episode 4
“House of Cards” – Episode 3*
“How I Met Your Mother” – Episode 8*
“Mad Men” – Episode 6*
“Marco Polo” – Episode 3
“Marvel’s Daredevil” – Episode 5
“Once Upon A Time” – Episode 6*
“Orange is the New Black” – Episode 3
“Pretty Little Liars” – Episode 4
“Scandal” – Episode 2*
“Sense8” – Episode 3
“Sons of Anarchy” – Episode 2*
“Suits” – Episode 2*
“The Blacklist” – Episode 6*
“The Killing” – Episode 2
“The Walking Dead” – Episode 2*
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – Episode 4
Of note: This is an average episode number after combining the results from various countries around the world. Therefore the “hooked” episode indicates approximately how long it took to watch a show before being hooked, rather than an exact moment or episode that won viewers over.
That being said, it’s not impossible or even unlikely that some of these shows featured a crucial narrative moment that did just that. As the release from Netflix stated: “An interesting dialogue emerges around pinpointing these exact moments within episodes where viewers got hooked — we all have our own predictions.”
“There’s a unique sense of intimacy with creating a show for Netflix. Knowing you have an audience’s undivided attention and that in essence, they are letting these characters in their home, we unfolded storylines at a more natural pace,” “Grace and Frankie” creator Marta Kauffman said in a statement. “In episode four, we see Grace and Frankie having no choice but to confront their fear, anger and uncertainty head on, which to me as a creator was a nice turning point to shift the narrative to focus on the future instead of the past; it is nice to know viewers were there right along with us.”
To that end, we’ve listed some examples of moments from a few choice shows that may have hooked viewers outright. Please take a moment to think back to when you watched these shows, and — remembering how you felt upon seeing each scene — vote for what moment you feel is most likely responsible for “hooking” viewers.