The downfall of Netflix Originals: A look into Americans' streaming behavior

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

In our last installment, we found that Netflix Originals were losing traction after four months of audience growth. This month we find the trend persists as the number of binge-watchers and casually viewers of Netflix original programs fell sharply for the second consecutive month, while the overall active user base remained stable. Netflix Originals’ binge-watching audience in Septembers accounted for slightly more than half of the audience in July. And if that’s not bad enough, Netflix Originals’ casual viewer base was cut by a third between July and September. Read on for our full Netflix streaming analysis.

Comedy rules binge-watching: Top ten shows on Netflix in September

We analyzed Americans’ streaming behavior on the leading subscription video on demand (SVoD) platform – Netflix – to identify the most popular shows and MoM viewership trends. We focused our analysis on two distinct behavioral cohorts: ‘Binge watchers’ who watch at least five episodes of a show in a day, and ‘casual viewers’ who watch a minimum of 20 minutes of a show in a day.

We found that all of the leading shows for binge-watching were half-hour comedies yet again, a trend we first detected in June. Family Guy claimed first place, again, bringing in nearly a fifth of September’s binge-watching audience, and 17 percent of the casual viewers.

Family Guy has been the most binge-worthy show on Netflix for four consecutive months, and the most popular show for three months straight. But that’s not all: Family Guy was also the only show that grew its audience during September, following the release of season 14 on September 25th. Once again we see the audience surge that follow the release of a new season.  

There were two other new releases that drove programs into the top ten lists: Season 5 of New Girl was released on September 20 and immediately made the cut for both binge-watching and casual viewing. And the 2nd season of the Netflix original series Narcos released on September 2nd drove it to claim last place for casual viewership.  

What else has changed? BoJack Horseman and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia lost their top of mind status, while Archer, which won an Emmy for best animation series, took 11th place for bingeing and 12th for casual viewership.

Top 10 Binged Shows Top 10 Watched Shows
# Title % of Top 10 Title % of Top 10
1 Family Guy 19% Family Guy 17%
2 Futurama 13% The Office 15%
3 The Office 12% Futurama 12%
4 American Dad! 12% Friends 11%
5 Friends 11% American Dad! 9%
6 Bob’s Burgers 9% Bob’s Burgers 9%
7 How I Met Your Mother 7% New Girl 7%
8 That ‘70s Show 6% How I Met Your Mother 7%
9 New Girl 6% Parks and Recreation 6%
10 Parks and Recreation 5% Narcos 6%

Netflix Originals fall short: Top ten Netflix Originals in September

Our data indicates that during September Netflix Originals’ binge-watching audience was cut by 31 percent month-over-month, and the casual viewer base saw a 10 percent decrease. What is behind these massive audience losses? Perhaps the content and perhaps the SVoD’s all-in-one release strategy, which results in dramatic audience declines in the weeks following a new season’s release.

The two most popular Netflix Originals, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) and Stranger Things, dropped their new seasons in June and July respectively, and have been losing viewers and impacting the overall Netflix Original audiences ever since. OITNB’s binge-watching audience dropped by 89 percent and Stranger Things binge watchers decreased by half since the new season aired.

Narcos was the most popular original program, bringing in 27 percent of the top ten viewer base following the release of its second season on September 2nd. However, season 2 wasn’t necessarily a hit when you compare its audience surge to Family Guys. Season 14 of Family Guy debuted on the SVoD on September 25th and over the next five days, viewership of the show outpaced the entire month’s viewership of Narcos.

What else? The children shows Project Mc² and Magi: Adventure of Sinbad were replaced by Kulipari: An Army of Frogs and Dawn of the Croods, indicating that kids are always looking for a new show to watch or binge. Three other programs made the lists following a new season release: Easy entered both lists, while Longmire and Marvel’s Luke Cage made the top ten for casual viewing.

Top 10 Binged Shows Top 10 Watched Shows
# Title % of Top 10 Title % of Top 10
1 Trailer Park Boys 23% Narcos 27%
2 BoJack Horseman 19% Stranger Things 13%
3 Arrested Development 16% BoJack Horseman 12%
4 Star Wars: The Clone Wars 10% Trailer Park Boys 10%
5 The Seven Deadly Sins 9% Arrested Development 9%
6 Kulipari: An Army of Frogs 6% Longmire 7%
7 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 6% Easy 6%
8 Easy 4% Star Wars: The Clone Wars 6%
9 Grace and Frankie 4% Orange Is the New Black 6%
10 Dragons: Race to the Edge 4% Marvel’s Luke Cage 5%

Bottom line: September was obviously not a good month for Netflix original programming, even when buoyed by new seasons of popular shows. While Netflix is not as tied to audience analytics as ad-supported networks, monthly double-digit audience drops must certainly be noticed. October numbers are sure to be closely watched for any sign of improvement, so stay tuned!

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