Netflix: pilot episodes don't hook viewers


Michelle Clancy

| 25 September 2015

As important as a TV pilot is to engaging viewer interest in a series, it turns out that viewers get hooked on shows much later in the series.

According to research from Netflix, most series have a 'hooked episode,' which is relatively consistent globally albeit with slight geographic differences. The Dutch, for instance, tend to fall in love with series the fastest, getting hooked one episode ahead of most countries, irrespective of the show.

Germans showed early fandom for Arrow whereas France fell first for How I Met Your Mother. In Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill won Brazilians over one episode quicker than Mexicans. And Down Under, viewers prove to hold out longer across the board, with members in Australia and New Zealand getting hooked one to two episodes later than the rest of the world on almost every show.

Despite these differences, the hooked moment had no correlation to audience size or attrition, regardless of show, episode number or country.

Further, a full 70% of viewers who watched the hooked episode went on to complete season one indicating the popularity of binge-watching.

"Given the precious nature of prime time slots on traditional TV, a series pilot is arguably the most important point in the life of the show," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. "However, in our research of more than 20 shows across 16 markets, we found that no one was ever hooked on the pilot. This gives us confidence that giving our members all episodes at once is more aligned with how fans are made."