Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of a television pilot isn’t to get the home viewing audience hooked on a series but to sell the show to a television network. Hooking fans on a series, as Netflix reveals, often doesn’t happen until several episodes in.
The king of on-demand streaming media recently crunched the numbers in an effort to determine precisely what episode manages to hook viewers on a series. As it turns out, nobody gets hooked on the pilot.
Netflix considers an episode to be the hook when, after viewing, 70 percent of watchers stick around for the rest of the season. But before we dig any deeper, let’s have a look at the results from the 25 shows Netflix analyzed:
- Arrow: Episode 8
- 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
- How I Met Your Mother: Episode 8
- Mad Men: Episode 6
- 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
- Scandal: Episode 2
- Sense8: Episode 3
- Sons of Anarchy: Episode 2
- Suits: Episode 2
- The Blacklist: Episode 6
- The Killing: Episode 2
- The Walking Dead: Episode 2
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Episode 4
There’s quite a bit of variance here with some shows hooking viewers in as few as two episodes while others, such as Arrow, don’t get the job done until episode eight.
While the data is interesting in its own right, Netflix is of course using it to promote its own product and more specifically, to prop up its strategy of releasing an entire season at once versus appointment viewing. There are plenty of pros and cons to each method but for the sake of brevity, we’ll save that discussion for another day.