Netflix released the fourth season of it’s original hit, Orange is the New Black (OITNB), today. The dramedy based on real events has been one of the most anticipated releases of the summer, and is the number one recommended show to binge-watch this month. As we head into season four, we decided to challenge ourselves and see if we could analyze past viewership rates to predict the success of this season’s premiere.  

We analyzed one year of global viewership rates for season three and discovered two very distinct behavioral trends. Immediately following the release, series loyalists binged the entire season, while casual viewers waited for the following weekend. The data also revealed that viewers prepared for the new season, doubling the daily viewership for season three in the week leading up to season four’s premiere. Viewers also couldn’t seem to get enough of the sneak peek secrets, and watched recaps and season four’s trailer nearly 10 times in the past week compared to the prior 30 days.

Casual viewership vs. binge-watching activity

We started by analyzing global viewing activity of season three between June 12, 2015 and June 12, 2016 to breakdown viewership trends by country. No surprise, the U.S. led our analysis, accounting for half of the viewers in the leading ten countries.

Top 10 countries for OITNB season three viewers

# Country % of Top 10
1 United States 49.2%
2 Brazil 13.6%
3 Mexico 9.3%
4 United Kingdom 8.4%
5 Canada 6.2%
6 Australia 3.3%
7 Argentina 3.1%
8 Sweden 2.4%
9 France 2.3%
10 Germany 2.2%

Casual viewership rates, as defined by watching at least one episode a day, increased by 25 percent worldwide during the second weekend season three was available. However our analysis of U.S. viewership revealed that watching rates more than tripled during the second weekend, in comparison to the first. These astonishing numbers prompted us to zero in on American viewership behavior, and to take a closer look at casual and binge-watching activity.

We defined binge watchers as users that watched five or more episodes in one day, and found that the days and weeks following season three’s release greatly impacted viewership rates. OITNB enthusiasts drove up binge-watching rates, which peaked the weekend of the premiere (6/12/15-6/14/15), followed by a peak in casual viewership rates the following weekend (6/19/15 – 6/21/15).

OITNB season 3 binge watchers by volume and percentage of overall viewers

America’s OITNB addiction: Month-over-Month

In line with our previous Netflix viewership analysis we found that viewership declined drastically after the first 30 days following the release. Viewership declined by 72 percent between the mid-June release and mid-August, and continued in a downward trend. By September, the third month following the release, viewership had declined by almost 90 percent.

# of months following season 3 release MoM changes
2 -72%
3 -54%
4 -39%
5 -28%
6 -15%
7 26%
8 5%
9 -20%
10 -8%
11 -5%
12 64%

Viewership experienced an uptick in the seventh month, due to some holiday, eggnog and Netflix consumption. Viewership remained stagnant for most of this year until May 2016, when viewers began to queue up the last season in preparation for season four’s premiere. Season three’s viewing rates over this past week leading up to today’s release more than doubled in comparison to the past 30 days. Loyalists went a step further, watching previous season recaps and season four’s preview more than 10 times than in the previous 30 days. Now that’s commitment.

Bottom line: We’re not fortune tellers, but we are data experts. By looking at which countries are watching the most and when they’re watching, we were able to tease out major behavioral trends, such as users binging versus casual watching activity. So what are we predicting? Besides a fantastic season four, we can assume die hard fans will start binging today, while the casual viewers will wait until next weekend to find out what’s happening with Piper, Alex, Red, and the whole Litchfield Penitentiary crew.