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600,000 People Binge-Watched House of Cards Season 2 on Netflix Last Weekend

By Brett Gold - Feb 21, 2014 at 10:33AM

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The return of 'House of Cards' was met with great acclaim, but just how many people tuned in? While Netflix holds back its numbers, a new study may shed some light.

Netflix's (NFLX 1.98%) hit series House of Cards hit a high note in 2013 and audiences couldn't wait for the second season to come online last week. According to a new study, a sizable share of that audience spent a good bit of time watching the drama over the weekend ... and finished all 13 episodes in the process.

(Credit: Netflix)

Binge-watching

Binge-watching started off as a great way to catch up on established shows you may have missed over the years, but Netflix has changed the equation. The company's approach of releasing all of its original shows' new episodes at the same time has changed how people watch TV.

While the company refuses to release its actual numbers (something that drives the other networks crazy), many have begun digging into alternate ways to gauge the network's viewership.

Procera Networks, a company that analyzes technology trends, has released a study showing that 2% of all Netflix users in the United States powered their way through all 13 episodes last weekend, with 1% of international audiences doing the same. Roughly translated, that's more than 600,000 viewers in the U.S. alone.

Stacking the deck

The study went even further and revealed these interesting streaming stats:

  • Anywhere from 5%-15% of Netflix subscribers worldwide watched at least one episode. 
  • The average number of episodes watched during the weekend was three domestically, and five in Europe.
  • The most popular resolution to watch in was 1280 X 720.

Interestingly, though, overall traffic from Netflix remained unchanged, meaning that the release of the new season didn't a cause a spike in new viewers. Executives have long maintained the company's catalog is so wide that its success isn't dependent on one particular show or product, and this study backs that up.

The future

While the data shows Netflix may not be reliant on shows like House of Cards to stay afloat from a numbers perspective, it's hard to argue that they haven't gained promotion and visibility as a result. The extra exposure is very valuable and partly what the company relies on to stay a step ahead of its rivals.

Other networks are now finding themselves at a major disadvantage because their numbers are public and Netflix's are not. It certainly makes for an uneven playing field, but companies like Procera are leveling the odds a little as interest into how these streaming shows do is rising.

On the company's website, Procera says its employees "thrive on technology challenges and like to tackle the biggest issues we see in the broadband market," and that's why they dug in to solve the Netflix number conundrum.

The results come from studying the Internet traffic across multiple networks, according to Procera. Look for expanded results when Netflix brings back its other hot show, Orange Is the New Black, in June. Expect more observations to come from that launch, especially now that we finally have some sort of info to make comparisons.

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