Summer doldrums hit Netflix Originals, sitcoms remain on top: America’s streaming analyzed

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

August was not kind to Netflix Originals, ending four months of growth in the number of individuals who binge-watched the streaming platform’s original content. Since our last installment, Netflix Originals’ casual viewer base decreased by nearly one quarter, and the binge-watching audience was cut by more than one fifth, while the overall Netflix streaming activity for the leading shows remained stable month-over-month.  

Before shedding tears, Netflix Originals’ binge-watching audience is still 20 percent larger than the monthly average since we first analyzed Netflix viewership trends in January.

Was August just a vacation? Top ten shows watched and binged on Netflix

We analyzed Americans’ streaming behavior on the leading subscription video on demand (SVoD) platform – Netflix – throughout August to identify the most popular shows and MoM viewership trends. As always, we focused our analysis on two distinct behavioral cohorts: ‘Binge watchers’, who watch a minimum of five episodes of a show in a day, and ‘casual viewers’, who watch at least 20 minutes of a show in a day. First, we found again that the most-watched and most-binged shows on the SVoD platform were all half-hour sitcoms. Then we noticed that slightly more than half of both casual and binge-watching audiences were streaming adult cartoons, a trend we first detected in June.

Family Guy took first place for binge-watching activity for the third month straight. The show was also the most popular show for casual viewership, attracting 20 percent of August’s binge-watchers and 17 percent of the casual viewers for the ten leading shows on the SVoD.

What else has changed since last month? It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Netflix’s original adult cartoon series BoJack Horseman made the cut for the most popular shows watched on Netflix, while Orange Is the New Black and Pokémon: Indigo League lost their top-of-mind status.

Top ten shows watched and binged on Netflix in August:

Top 10 Binged Shows Top 10 Watched Shows
# Title % of Top 10 Title % of Top 10
1 Family Guy 20% Family Guy 17%
2 Futurama 15% The Office 15%
3 The Office 13% Futurama 14%
4 Friends 11% Friends 11%
5 Bob’s Burgers 9% Bob’s Burgers 9%
6 American Dad! 9% How I Met Your Mother 8%
7 How I Met Your Mother 8% American Dad! 7%
8 Parks and Recreation 6% Parks and Recreation 7%
9 That ’70s Show 5% It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 6%
10 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 5% BoJack Horseman 6%

Not all Pokémon news was bad. While bingeing on Pokémon: Indigo League decreased by more than 30 percent, Pokémon: XY bingeing increased by 42 percent MoM, making it the 20th most binge-watched show on Netflix.

How do Netflix Originals compare: Top ten Netflix Originals in August

Netflix Originals’ audience growth might have come to an end, but August still ranked as the 3rd strongest month for Netflix Original binge-watching this year, after July and January. The overall viewership for the leading Netflix Originals was down 23 percent MoM and the binge-watching activity decreased by 26 percent, mainly due to drops in the audiences of Orange is the New Black (OITNB) and Marco Polo, which were was cut by 62 percent and 75 percent, respectively.  

What’s behind these massive viewership losses? We’ve continuously found that the SVoD’s all-in-one release strategy results in shows burning brightly and growing audiences dramatically, only to wither in the weeks following new season releases. OITNB dropped a new season in mid-June and Marco Polo’s new season hit in early July.

BoJack Horseman was the most binge-worthy Netflix Original for the second month, and also topped the casual viewership list. In August, the show captured 26 percent of the Netflix Original binge watchers and 23 percent of the casual viewers. The sci-fi hit Stranger Things took second place for casual viewership, attracting 22 percent of the Netflix Original casual audience. Stranger Things debuted on the SVoD platform on July 15th and was still growing its audience six weeks later, which clearly defies the shortened shelf life trend detected for most releases. However this has happened before for unconventional content, such as Making a Murderer.  

Top ten Netflix original series binged and watched in August:

Top 10 Binged Shows Top 10 Watched Shows
# Title % of Top 10 Title % of Top 10
1 BoJack Horseman 26% BoJack Horseman 23%
2 Trailer Park Boys 19% Stranger Things 22%
3 Arrested Development 15% Trailer Park Boys 10%
4 Star Wars: The Clone Wars 9% Arrested Development 10%
5 The Seven Deadly Sins 8% Orange Is the New Black 9%
6 Magi: Adventure of Sinbad 7% Star Wars: The Clone Wars 7%
7 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 6% Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 5%
8 Dragons: Race to the Edge 4% Project Mc² 5%
9 Project Mc² 4% Magi: Adventure of Sinbad 5%
10 Degrassi: Next Class 4% Grace and Frankie 5%

Bottom Line: August was hard on Netflix Originals, but not enough to erase previous big viewership gains. Without exciting new releases, key drivers for both binge-watching and casual viewership, August results may prove atypical or even seasonal over time. Well awaited releases on the SVoD in September, including the second season of Narcos, will without a doubt diversify the top ten lists, so be sure to check in for our next installment.

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