A couple years ago, Netflix declared binge watching as the new normal, sharing research conducted by a third-party surveyor on their behalf that indicated that 61 percent of TV streamers binge watch regularly. This was the closest data available to understanding binging trends on Netflix, until now.
Jumpshot analyzed Netflix viewership across the U.S. in the first three months of 2016, to better understand what, when, and how users are watching. Compared to a survey, which typically includes a small panel of incentivized individuals, Jumpshot’s data is based on the online behavior of a global panel of 100 million consumers, collected click by click—reaching 160 billion on a monthly basis—to unearth genuine trends in online behavior. Our findings indicate that short, digestible, and entertaining content is the basic requirement for binge-able shows. Read on for our data-driven streaming findings.
Binge watching 101
First, let’s define binge-watching. The survey mentioned above included 1,500 individuals that stream at least one show a week, but binge-watching was defined so vaguely that it can refer to anything from daily to bi-weekly viewing habits. To us, that’s amateur hour, pun intended—that’s literally one hour of 30 Rock. Our definition of binge-watching is streaming five episodes or more in one day. The results were not disappointing.
Our data shows that almost one in five Netflix users watch at least five titles on any given day. Men are 11 percent more likely to binge watch than women, and they tend to binge later in the evening. And Gen Xers (35-44 years old) are the most active on Netflix, as they are 36 percent more likely to watch five or more titles in a given day than any other age group.
The beginning of the year was a fairly slow period for Netflix. Despite the unconventional rise in popularity of Making a Murderer in early January, and the release of the fourth season of House of Cards in March, Netflix Originals were not the most popularly binged shows on Netflix in Q1 2016.
Top 10 Most Binged TV Shows on Netflix
- Family Guy
- The Office
- Parks and Recreation
- Nurse Jackie
- American Dad!
- New Girl
- How I Met Your Mother
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It’s interesting to see that all ten shows are comedic sitcoms, that is if you include dark comedy in the mix. They are all under 30 minutes in length, making them easier to ingest in large quantities. It’s clear that comedies are easier to binge-watch (Have you ever tried binge-watching Lost? What’s up with the polar bear? The numbers? The smoke monster?) and, Netflix has made a concerted effort to create original sitcoms such as The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, BoJack Horseman, and Master of None, but none of these topped the list.
Netflix Originals shelf life
Netflix’s most widely-known original shows include House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos, but it remains to be seen if these shows are truly binge-able. Our data shows that unique viewership on Netflix Originals peaks in the first three days a show is available. After the first 30 days, viewership typically drops by 74 percent.
As Netflix delves deeper into its original programming strategy and takes on major production companies in the making, all of this seems like a lot of effort for three days of binge-watching. Maybe binge-watching really is the new normal, but is it sustainable?
Bottom line: Surveys based on a small group of incentivized participants are simply not enough. To fully understand consumer behavior you need to look beyond your own web properties and focus on actual behavior. Jumpshot’s data is based on clickstream activity of 100 million global individuals, providing you with a better understanding of consumers’ entire online lives.