Television Business International

Counting Cards: viewing numbers for Netflix’s House of Cards

Netflix’s original series House of Cards launched February 1 and while the streaming service does not provide any viewing numbers, new data seen by TBI gives an insight into how the series has performed and how people are consuming the MRC-produced political drama.

Procera Networks estimates that between 5-10% of Netflix US subs have watched House of Cards

About 2% of Netflix customers watched an episode on launch day and 3% over the first weekend

A third of people that streamed an episode of House of Cards on the Friday launch day had seen the whole 13-episode series by the end of the first weekend

Netflix is not bound by overnights, but having invested over US$100 million in a single series it will be poring over the numbers for House of Cards and looking for an uptick in subscribers and reduced churn.

Unfortunately, all it will say publicly about how House of Cards has performed is: “We are happy with the reception the show has gotten in the media, on social media and from our members in reviews that you can read on Netflix.com.”

Fortunately, the Analytics division of US networking business Procera Networks has run the numbers on the series.

In a blog posting, the company’s vice president, global marketing, Cam Cullen analysed the traffic for House of Cards a day after launch. Procera has now shared updated viewing data with TBI.

Procera monitors traffic at five of the top ten cable broadband providers in North America and three of the top five DSL operators. It drilled into activity around House of Cards at one of these operators, meaning a relatively small sample, but an interesting one given the assertion from Cullen that activity tracks at similar levels across all of the networks.

Cullen says that somewhere between 5% to 10% of Netflix subs in the US have watched at least one episode of House of Cards.

In numbers, that equates to between 1.35 million and 2.71 million viewers.

The numbers relate to the US-listed service’s North American customers only, not the 6.12 million it has across Latin America, the Nordics and the UK and Ireland (4.8 million of which are paying subs).

Netflix rolled out all 13 episodes of House of Cards simultaneously and its lead star Kevin Spacey and writer Beau Willimon are in no doubt that it has rewriten the rules of making content for the small-screen. Meanwhile, the industry has been watching to see how people consume content when it is not drip-fed in a weekly pattern. Do they binge or do they ration themselves to TV-type viewing?

Procera first looked at viewing patterns a day after the series launched.

That revealed that just over 2% of Netflix’s 27.15 million subs (25.47 million of which are paying) had watched the first episode a day after launch and 0.6% had binged on the whole series.

At the latest announced subscriber levels, and assuming a similar usage level across all internet networks, that would equate to 547,072 and 162,900 viewers respectively.

“We did another update taking in the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and after the weekend 3% of Netflix subscribers had watched and 1% had watched episode 13,” Cullen told TBI. “That means that a third of people that had started watching the series on Friday had reached the end of the series on Sunday.”

Specifically, 3.1% of Netflix subs (841,650, assuming the same proportion of usage across all networks) had watched episode one, according to Procera, falling to 2.1% (570,150) for episode two and 1.7% (271,500) for episode three.

By the final, thirteenth episode, the proportion of Netflix subs watching was 1.1% (298,650).

As a proportion of overall traffic, the peak proportion of overall traffic at the network Procera monitored was 0.076% for episode one, falling to 0.021% for the finale.

As a proportion of that network’s subs, the peak traffic was 0.311% of its total base for the opener with the low 0.092% for the concluding episode.

The peak proportion of Netflix’s overall traffic at the same network was 0.275% for the opening episode, falling to 0.076% for the final installment.

Sony Pictures Television is selling the series internationally and has already inked a raft of deals with broadcasters.