America’s Netflix addiction: Binge-watching is on a rise, while active user counts decline

 In Behavioral Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Consumer Behavior, Featured, Growth, Popular, Site Analysis, Streaming, Top 10, Trends

Every month, Netflix releases a huge batch of new content. And every month, we find another reason or two to binge-watch our Sundays away. Surprisingly though, there is virtually no data available about this streaming activity. But because you always want what you can’t have, we decided to analyze what is being watched on Netflix, when, and for how long, on a monthly basis.

In this installment, our analysis of America’s online streaming behavior revealed clear evidence that Netflix binge-watching is on the rise. Last month, we reported the amount of binge watchers grew by 16 percent since March. Our data now indicates that the amount of binge-watching done by Netflix users grew by 12 percent month-over-month, bringing the overall increase in binge-watching activity to 30 percent since March. Read on for our full findings.

Top ten shows binged and watched on Netflix

We analyzed Americans’ Netflix streaming activity in May and compared it to past activity to detect binge-watching and casual viewership trends. As always, we focused our analysis on two behavioral cohorts: binge watchers and show viewers. Binge watchers view at least five episodes a day, and show viewers watch a minimum of 20 minutes of a show in a day. It’s interesting that the amount of Netflix binge watchers is growing steadily month-over-month, while the number of show viewers declined by 6 percent, and total active users declined by 3 percent as well.

American Dad! took first place for binge watchers and show viewers, doubling both audiences MoM. We expected this impressive growth in viewership, as season ten of the show premiered on May 17th, and we have consistently found that viewership spikes dramatically following a new season release. As for the rest, the usual suspects made the cut, including The Office, Family Guy, Friends and Bob’s Burgers, however only two shows exhibited substantial changes in activity since our last analysis: Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers.

Bob’s Burgers lost 37 percent of its binge watchers, and nearly half of show viewers since April, when season five was released. This finding strengthens our insights into the short lifespan of Netflix viewership. Family Guy, on the other hand, saw a 62 percent MoM increase in binge-watching, and a 41 percent increase in show viewership. Perhaps there was a crossover between the American Dad! and Family Guy streaming activity, as Seth MacFarlane fans flocked to Netflix to binge their favorite shows. 

Top 10 Binged Shows Top 10 Watched Shows
# Title % of Top 10 Title % of Top 10
1 American Dad! 16.6% American Dad! 14.5%
2 Family Guy 16% The Office (U.S.) 14.1%
3 The Office (U.S.) 12.6% Family Guy 13.9%
4 Bob’s Burgers 11.3% Bob’s Burgers 12.1%
5 Futurama 10.1% Friends 9.6%
6 Friends 9.2% Futurama 9%
7 How I Met Your Mother 7.8% How I Met Your Mother 7.1%
8 That ’70s Show 6.1% Grace and Frankie 6.7%
9 Parks and Recreation 5.7% Archer 6.6%
10 Archer 4.6% Parks and Recreation 6.5%

Notable mention goes out to the Netflix Original series Grace and Frankie for making the overall top ten list for May.

A look into Netflix Originals’ popularity

Netflix Originals include a wide variety of creative programming, such as fan favorites Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Making a Murderer, just to name a few. Previously cancelled cable shows, like Arrested Development and Trailer Park Boys that have been revived by Netflix, also fall under this category.  

Here in lies further evidence of Netflix’s addictive nature, as the amount of binge-watching users grew by 36 percent since April, and an astonishing 73 percent since March. We also found additional supporting evidence of the immediate audience surge after a new season is released. Grace and Frankie took first place for show viewers and binge watchers, accounting for a quarter of the total U.S. Netflix Original streaming activity, most likely due to the release of its second season on May 6th.

Top 10 Binged Netflix Originals Top 10 Watched Netflix Originals
# Title % of top 10 Title % of top 10
1 Grace and Frankie 22.1% Grace and Frankie 26%
2 Trailer Park Boys 20.6% Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 21%
3 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 18.6% Trailer Park Boys 11.2%
4 Arrested Development 13.6% Arrested Development 7.8%
5 Star Wars: The Clone Wars 11% Star Wars: The Clone Wars 7%
6 The Ranch 4.2% Marvel’s Daredevil 6.6%
7 Fuller House 3.6% The Ranch 6.6%
8 BoJack Horseman 3% House of Cards 5.4%
9 Lady Dynamite 2.2% Orange Is the New Black 4.3%
10 The Adventures of Puss in Boots 1% Fuller House 4.1%

Interestingly enough, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) made the May top ten list, most likely due to viewers streaming past seasons in preparation of season four’s June premiere. We took a deep look into OITNB streaming before and after season four was released, and found that the fourth season’s premiere was a huge success. During the first three days following season four’s release the show attracted nearly 7 times the amount of binge watchers and show viewers as season three’s first three days attracted, and nearly 2.5 times the same as season three’s best weekend. Now that’s a lot of bingeing!

Bottom line: For better or worse, Netflix has changed the way we consume video content. Our analysis into American streaming behavior on Netflix has found that binge-watching is the new norm, a trend we see increasing in popularity each passing month. However, we also continue to discover that this trend has a downfall, as it is shortening the content’s shelf life. We will continue to look into America’s streaming preferences and will report back next month, so stay tuned!

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