As reported on Friday, House of Cards launched with a very big initial push, with anywhere from 5-15% of Netflix subscribers on several worldwide broadband networks at least sampling one episode. Two big conclusions jumped out at me from looking at the data:
Binge watching is real
The average number of episodes watched during the weekend was 3 in the US, and 5 in European networks. This is the first time we have made a comparison for Netflix series, so this bears watching for future series.
There was a 4X increase over the first season in the first weekend binge watching in the US – anywhere from 6-10% of subscribers watched at least one episode of House of Cards, and about 2% finished the series over the weekend. This was for an hour-long show (compared to the shorter form Arrested Development), so that is a huge number.
In Europe, 7-10% of Netflix subscribers watched at least one episode, and about 1% finished the series over the weekend.
Netflix in High Definition
The most popular resolution was 1280x720, the highest resolution stream that we saw on any of the networks we monitored (more on that below)
We did not see a statistically significant increase in overall Netflix traffic, which is consistent with past series releases.
It is interesting to note that the most popular resolution watched for all of the episodes was 1280x720, the high definition mode that you would see on consoles, TVs, or other larger screens. With all the noise about Netflix and quality, this shows that consumers are still getting high quality video from Netflix. For those that are not familiar with how Netflix works, it will stream at the highest rate possible, so if the bandwidth is available it will use it, if there is network congestion, it will back off and use less bandwidth. The resolution is dependent on the device types used to view content (i.e. you get smaller streams if you watch on tablets or phones), so a series like House of Cards tends to get the full big screen experience. Based on some of the data that we see on Netflix in general indicates that more small-screen viewing is occurring than in the past, which may indicate why some of the average bandwidth scores form Netflix are going down (and not necessarily due to any peering issues).
European Network: House of Cards Episodes Watched – Overall % of Subscribers vs. Netflix Subscribers
European Network: Distribution of Episodes on at any one time (a busy graph, but you can see that Episode 1 continues to be watched by subscribers for the entire weekend.)
North American Network: Netflix over the past few weeks – as you can see, no real impact for the House of Cards launch.
North American Network: Average bitrate per episode (All clustering around 2Mbps)
"Cam is the Vice President of Global Marketing at Sandvine and responsible for Sandvine's overall global marketing. He is an avid follower of and the author of the Global Internet Phenomena report on network trends. He also loves football (the real kind played with a round ball) as well as an active blogger for Sandvine on a wide range of technology and business issues.
Areas of expertise: Internet trends, virtualization, analytics, network optimization, enterprise services