Netflix recently shared some statistics on their five Marvel series – Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the team-up series The Defenders – with USA Today, and it turns out the most popular gateway series is…Jessica Jones. Rather than most viewers watching the shows in chronological order of release, “the most popular viewing order starts with Jessica Jones, then moves to Daredevil, Luke Cage and finally, Iron Fist.”
“When it comes to an individual story, they’ll watch it in order,” said Todd Yellin, vice president of product innovation at Netflix. “But when it comes to these related kind of series, they’re very different kinds of stories. They watch them in order of how they’re interested in them and how they learn about them.”
Certainly, the high profile of Tenth Doctor David Tennant, who plays the series’ villain Kilgrave, contributes to Jessica Jones’ relative popularity – as does Ritter’s own profile from roles in Breaking Bad and Don’t Trust the B– In Apartment 23. But I also think it’s far more telling that, in a genre which is relatively starved for women-centered properties, the show with a female lead draws in the most viewers. People are hungry for these stories.
Netflix’s analysis of its 1,300 “taste communities” also revealed some other interesting tidbits. Viewers who start with Jessica Jones will most often move to Daredevil next, and viewers who start with Daredevil will usually progress to Jessica Jones. Meanwhile, viewers who start with Luke Cage will generally watch Iron Fist next. Yellin was surprised by this data, since he thought Luke Cage and Jessica Jones viewership “would bunch up more” – and I’ll admit I’d had a similar expectation.
In addition, one in eight viewers who watches a Netflix Marvel shows is new to comic-based content. Viewers who come to Jessica Jones first are often into “comedies and shows with strong women,” such as Master of None or Orange Is the New Black. Meanwhile, viewers who like antihero series like Breaking Bad or House of Cards are more likely to start with Daredevil.
I think this is pretty interesting stuff, but I recognize it comes with one big caveat: algorithms are not neutral, and Netflix’s algorithm design probably has a lot to do with how users find and move through its Marvel series.
Still, it’s fun to know.
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