Singaporeans slower to get hooked on shows: Netflix

Singaporean viewers took two more episodes than global viewers to become fans of House Of Cards, starring Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey.
Singaporean viewers took two more episodes than global viewers to become fans of House Of Cards, starring Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey. PHOTO: NETFLIX

When does a television series get "sticky"? Netflix used a global survey to find out and it showed that Singaporeans tend to become ardent fans of shows just a little later than the global average. Netflix is releasing the survey results today.

On shows such as period drama Marco Polo and comedies The Ranch and Love, global viewers on average became hooked by Episode 3, while Singaporeans took one more episode to feel the same way.

The same went for the Emmywinning sitcom Master Of None and superhero thriller Marvel's Jessica Jones as well as a handful of other shows - global viewers took four shows to indicate that they had become fans, while Singapore viewers took five.

The Emmy-winning political thriller House Of Cards had global viewers stuck on it by Episode 3. Here, viewers were not persuaded till Episode 5.

You might say that Singaporeans are choosier about when they commit.

Netflix defines being "hooked" on a show as the point at which at least 70 per cent of viewers go on to complete the season.

In another respect, viewers here fall in line with global patterns.

They tend to get hooked more quickly on thrillers and crime dramas such as The Fall, Stranger Things and Narcos (by Episode 2) than on talkier, more characterdriven fare, such as drama comedies Jane The Virgin and Gilmore Girls (Episode 7 or later). This is on a par with trends worldwide.

In a telephone interview yesterday with The Straits Times, Ms Cindy Holland, vice-president of content acquisition and original series at Netflix, declined to be drawn into saying what viewing habits here imply about local tastes.

Whether a series nabs loyal fans by an early episode, or becomes unmissable only by Episode 7 or 8, is no indication of a show's quality or how many viewers it will eventually garner, she says.

"Regardless of where a show falls on the scale, there is no correlation between that and its audience size. It might have a large audience or a small one; it might be anywhere on that scale."

Netflix did not reveal the total number of viewers for each show in each country or the viewer attrition rate, which is how many viewers cease watching a show altogether.

In general, Netflix - which streams shows it produces (such as Narcos, House Of Cards and Stranger Things) as well as content made by other studios - does not divulge viewing figures.

Ms Holland says that in spite of small national differences in when a show becomes unmissable, Netflix data shows that series that are hits in one part of the world tend to be hits everywhere.

Netflix does not use the survey data to determine the sort of content that it will carry, she adds. The data is used mostly as a yardstick to judge the success of a show in making viewers stick to the end of a season.

"The data doesn't tell us what to make, but it gives us information about how a supernatural thriller might perform, as compared with a family drama. Not in terms of audience size, but the rate at which viewers tend to really dig into a series."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Singaporeans slower to get hooked on shows: Netflix'. Print Edition | Subscribe