Netflix viewing figures provided exclusively to Screen Rant have explained just why the streaming service canceled Iron Fist and Luke Cage. The recent high-profile cancellations left Marvel fans shocked, not least because Netflix pulled the plug on Iron Fist just a month after the release of a much-improved season 2. No reason for the cancellations has ever been officially presented; it's generally believed Iron Fist was canceled because of poor viewing figures, while there are reports of behind-the-scenes conflict between Marvel and Netflix over Luke Cage.
Screen Rant has spoken exclusively to Jumpshot, a San Francisco-based analytics company. Their anonymized global panel tracks five billion actions a day across 100 million devices to deliver insights into online consumer behavior. Jumpshot has looked at the viewing behavior and activity of their US members in order to get a sense of just how the Netflix Originals are performing. There are limitations to this data - it's US-specific and based on clicks rather than viewing habits - but given Netflix's secrecy over ratings, it's probably the best indication available of how viewers are responding to the Marvel shows.
According to Jumpshot, both Iron Fist and Luke Cage lost two-thirds of their viewers between their first and second seasons. Compared to their first seasons, Luke Cage lost 59 percent of its viewers, while Iron Fist lost 64 percent. Jumpshot has provided an index indicating how the different Marvel Netflix shows performed in their first weeks, compared against Daredevil season 2 (the first series they measured). Here's how Iron Fist and Luke Cage look:
- Daredevil season 2: 100
- Luke Cage season 1: 92
- Iron Fist season 1: 80
- Luke Cage season 2: 38
- Iron Fist season 2: 29
These figures give a sense of the sheer scale of the drop in viewership. In the case of Luke Cage, they explain reports that Netflix wanted to renegotiate their deal with Marvel and book a 10-episode series rather than the normal 13 episodes; these shows are expensive, even allowing for New York's generous tax breaks, and the show wasn't getting enough viewers to make a 13-episode series worthwhile. Meanwhile, Iron Fist's cancellation is even easier to understand; although season 2 was praised by viewers and critics alike for having redeemed the character of Danny Rand, it looks as though people just didn't choose to watch it. According to Jumpshot's data, viewership for Iron Fist took less than a month to drop back to baseline levels. That certainly explains the speed with which Netflix canceled the series.
This data is the first solid hint that the partnership between Marvel and Netflix may not be quite so productive as had previously been believed. But is the issue specific to Iron Fist and Luke Cage, or does it affect the entire Marvel Netflix slate? Jumpshot has provided Screen Rant with more exclusive information on all the Marvel Netflix shows, that we'll be exploring in detail over the coming days.