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How well are Netflix’s original series doing? New data gives us a glimpse

netflix luth research house of cards
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Netflix has launched a number of original series over the past few years. But how have they been performing according to the “ratings?” New analysis from Luth Research hopes to shed some light.

Remember, the streaming world doesn’t have a standard ratings system like we see with Nielsen and traditional linear TV. So no one other than Netflix is really in a position to determine how these shows had performed. That is, until now … sort of. Luth Research has gathered together a representative sample of 2,500 Netflix subscribers in the U.S. to determine exactly which shows are attracting the biggest audiences, and which are moving more slowly than Netflix might like, reports Variety. But there’s one important limitation: the company can only track Netflix viewing on smartphones, computers, and tablets through the use of a tool to extract encrypted data from the Netflix app – Luth does not have the ability to track viewership on Internet-connected TVs, gaming consoles, and streaming media players. So while the data is representative to some degree, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Related: Netflix raises the stakes, plans to launch 20 original series per year 

That said, according to the results, House of Cards still reigns supreme as Netflix’s most popular original series, tracking as the most popular series in March with 6.4%of subscribers watching one (or more) of the three available seasons. The third season also attracted the most binge-watchers  – almost half of Netflix subscribers in the sample watched at least three episodes per day within the first month after the release. That’s not surprising since the latest season was released on February 27, 2015. That translated to 6.5% of subscribers tuning in to season three.

Marvel's Daredevil Netflix
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Still, some of the newest shows are giving Frank Underwood and the rest of the White House crew a run for their money. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the comedy written by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (30 Rock), snagged 7.3% viewership in the first month after its release, while 10.7% of subscribers watched at least one episode of Daredevil in the first 11 days after it was released. Then there’s Bloodline, which has been largely been praised by viewers, but the numbers suggest that the series hasn’t had a strong start, attracting only 2.4% of subscribers.

It will be interesting to see how the third season of Orange is the New Black, which will be released June 12, will perform. The show has been so popular that Netlix has already confirmed a fourth season, to be released in 2016.

While this data is interesting, it remains difficult tough to determine true ratings for streaming services. Many people binge-watch shows, and often binge long after the original run. The above-noted data about House of Cards proves that. However, Netflix original series will likely attract their largest audiences shortly after release. Perhaps the best measure of success will be how inclined viewers are to binge-watch versus stretching out episodes. A show not only has to capture a large viewing audience, but capture viewers’ attention. And there’s no better indication of that then a viewer being unable to put down the remote and catch the next episode on another day.

For now, Netflix keeping its audience data close to its chest, as it has all along, will help the company. After all, they have all the negotiating power without revealing exactly what content providers and producers may be getting out of the audience side. (Remember, Netflix doesn’t have any advertisers, therefore there’s no clear-cut reason to divulge audience information.) That setup, however, likely won’t last long. People – and companies – want data, data, and more data, so the true makeup of the typical Netflix viewer, and what exactly they are watching, will likely be revealed soon.

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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