Netflix reveals shows’ breakthrough episodes

Show such as Breaking Bad and House of Cards have won numerous broadcasting and acting awards — but it seems we weren’t all hooked from the first episode.

Online streaming service Netflix has analysed its global streaming data across the first seasons of some of today’s most popular shows — both Netflix original series and programmes which premiered on other networks — looking for signs that pointed to when viewers became hooked.

It turns out that when commercial breaks and appointment viewing are stripped away and consumers can watch an entire season as they choose, you can see the true nature of TV show fandom emerge.

The study found that each show has a ‘hooked’ episode — the episode which persuaded most viewers to stick with the show. In total, 70% of viewers who watched the ’hooked’ episode went on to complete season one or — more poetically — when members were hooked and there was no turning back.

While the data identified the ’hooked’ episode, it was a little more reticent on pinpointing the exact moment of an episode that sold the show to viewers.

House of Cards
House of Cards

While most of the world was hooked by the same episode, there were some slight geographical differences.

For example, the Dutch tend to fall in love with series the fastest, getting hooked one episode ahead of most countries regardless of the programme.

Germans showed early fandom for Arrow, whereas France fell first for How I Met Your Mother.

In Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill won Brazilians over one episode quicker than Mexicans, while in Australia and New Zealand, viewers prove to hold out longer across the board, with members getting hooked one to two episodes later than the rest of the world on almost every programme.

Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul

According to the Netflix data, the average global episodes where members got hooked are:

  • Bates Motel: Episode 2
  • Better Call Saul: Episode 4
  • Bloodline: Episode 4
  • BoJack Horseman: Episode 5
  • Breaking Bad: Episode 2
  • Dexter: Episode 3
  • Gossip Girl: Episode 3
  • Grace & Frankie: Episode 4
  • House of Cards: Episode 3
  • Marco Polo: Episode 3
  • Marvel’s Daredevil: Episode 5
  • Once Upon A Time: Episode 6
  • Orange is the New Black: Episode 3
  • Pretty Little Liars: Episode 4
  • Sense8: Episode 3
  • Sons of Anarchy: Episode 2
  • Suits: Episode 2
  • The Killing: Episode 2
  • The Walking Dead: Episode 2
  • The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Episode 4

Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black

Chief content officer for Netflix Ted Sarandos said that, despite the importance of the pilot in the industry, viewers are never hooked by the first episode.

“Given the precious nature of primetime slots on traditional TV, a series pilot is arguably the most important point in the life of the show,” he said. “However, in our research of more than 20 shows across 16 markets, we found that no one was ever hooked on the pilot.”


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