‘House of Cards’ Ratings: Robin Wright-Led Season Draws Older, Female Audience

Nielsen data shows a shift in who's watching the Washington D.C. drama now that Kevin Spacey is out and Wright is the face of the show.
House Of Cards Season 6 Netflix Final Season
Robin Wright in "House Of Cards"
David Giesbrecht/Netflix

House of Cards” has seen audience erosion in its final season, according to a new ratings report by Nielsen. The service reports that younger viewers and men watched the show’s recent sixth season less often than past seasons.

Nielsen reports that although “House of Cards” attracted a more male-heavy audience in past seasons, the show now skews more female. Its audience is now 54 percent female, compared to men comprising 56 percent of viewers in Season 5.

Also, the percentage of adults under 35 (22 percent) has shrunk greatly from Season 5 (35 percent), while adults ages 50-64 now account for 27 percent of the show’s audience, compared to 19 percent in Season 5.

Part of that can be attributed to natural erosion of a show in its sixth season, but there’s likely a larger issue at play: The scandalous departure of star Kevin Spacey, who was fired following sexual assault allegations. Now in its final season, and with Robin Wright in the lead role, the show was forced to switch some storylines after Spacey’s exit — and several critics felt the show spent too much time bogged down by the past and on the fate of Spacey’s character.

That’s all to say that according to Nielsen data, the show is not what it once was. The service said the first Season 6 episode of “House of Cards” had an average minute audience of 2.9 million viewers during its first seven days of availability (Nov. 2—8) compared to 4.4 million for the Season 5 premiere episode.

Meanwhile, within the first seven days of availability, about 1.5 U.S. viewers binged all eight episodes, compared to 1.5 million last year.

In comparison, another early Netflix show now in its sixth season, “Orange is the New Black,” is also eroding, but at a slower pace. In August, Nielsen revealed that the Season 6 premiere of “OITNB” averaged 5.3 million U.S. viewers during the first three days of availability, compared to 6.7 million for Season 4.

Other premiere episodes with ratings revealed by Nielsen include “13 Reasons Why” (6.1 million after three days of availability), “The Crown” (nearly 3 million after the first three days), “Disenchantment” (4.4 million after three days), and, of course, “Stranger Things” (a whopping 15.8 million viewers in the first three days).

As always, it’s good to keep in mind that Netflix continues to dismiss Nielsen’s numbers. But insiders say the numbers are pretty close — and Nielsen has been working on its streaming ratings methodology for some time for its SVOD Content Ratings solution. Critics argue its numbers are still underrepresented because it uses people meter boxes, the same ones that measure broadcast and cable ratings, for Netflix measurement.

Here’s a look at the viewership track for all eight episodes of Season 6:

And here’s a breakdown of the demographics for “House of Cards” Season 6:

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