Stranger Things had Netflix users “hooked” after two episodes
James R | On 21, Sep 2016
Stranger Things had Netflix users “hooked” after two episodes, the streaming giant has revealed, with a new study that claims to know exactly when viewers turn into fans.
The study compared a range of series watched by users across six continents to detect the episode that took watchers from casual to committed – which Netflix defines as the episode that kept 70 per cent of viewers watching through to the end of a first season.
“In doing so, Netflix discovered viewing behavior – and fandom – is quite universal,” claims Netflix.
However, universality a tricky thing to judge, as their cut-off point also counts as the moment when 30 per cent of viewers tuned out altogether and decided not to finish a show’s first season. Why not 80 per cent (and 20 per cent)? Or 75 per cent (and 25 per cent)? The study, Netflix admits, also has no correlation to total viewership numbers, which means that there is no way to guarantee that a particular “hooked” episode is “universal”; Making a Murderer, for example, trended on Twitter repeatedly after its release and dominated media headlines, while Marseille, its French original series, mainly appeared to attract negative criticism.
Part of Netflix’s brilliance, though, is that it doesn’t have to worry about audience ratings – it doesn’t matter to the company how many people watch something, per se, as long as some people are, because it will keep them subscribing for another month.
“Regardless of whether they live in Argentina or Japan, members are not only getting hooked on similar episodes, but identifying with similar storylines,” says Netflix, but also notes that its research didn’t indicate specific plot points, only the episode at which 70 per cent of people continued to watch until the end of a season. There is also no measure of how quickly viewers watched the show after that “hooked” point; a casual viewer may get to the end of a season months after a more committed fan.
Marketing spin aside, what is interesting about the research is that it dispels the myth that the pilot is the make-or-break moment for a show – a dig at the traditional TV industry and, perhaps, even at Amazon, which uses audience feedback from one episode to decide whether to commission a full series. Netflix, rather, suggests that it takes three or four episodes for viewers to decide whether to stop watching a programme or become more invested.
Stranger Things, it appears, sinks its teeth in faster than many, with Episode 2 having 70 per cent of viewers hooked, compared to an average of three episodes of Narcos and four episodes of Making a Murderer. In Gilmore Girls, it took seven episodes until 3 in 10 viewers decided to stop watching, while The Get Down took just two episodes.
At what point did you decide to stop or keep on watching a show? And how long did it take you to finish Stranger Things? Let us know your thoughts below.