The day after season 1 of Marvel’s Luke Cage was released, Netflix crashed. Although Netflix declined to confirm that the cause of this malfunction was a staggering number of fans, binge-watching the streaming giant’s third original Marvel series, this assumption was adopted by many - including, jokingly, by Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker and the show’s official Twitter account.
If Luke Cage’s fans did indeed ‘break Netflix’, the news that the bulletproof superhero’s first season was Marvel’s most successful streaming hit this year, also beating out several other popular Netflix releases (in some capacity), should come as no surprise.
Luke Cage (Mike Colter) was first introduced to audiences as a supporting character in Netflix’s second Marvel vehicle; Jessica Jones (Kristen Ritter). The thirteen episode first season of his stand-alone series took the opportunity to explore the character, his abilities and origin story independently of his fellow New York-based superheroes. Netflix’s Marvel TV shows share a location, timeline and character crossovers and will become connected via the upcoming Defenders mini-series, set for release in 2017.
The news about Luke Cage's viewership was revealed by Symphony Advanced Media (as reported by Observer), which collates their data with the permitted use of consumer’s devices. Ambient sound (via the device microphone), app use, search engine and social media usage (among other techniques mentioned on their website) contribute to their report, which states that during Luke Cage’s first 32 days of release, 6.34 percent of video viewers were tuned in to the series per an average minute. This figure is higher than their measured 5.94 percent achieved by Daredevil season 2. Although Luke Cage’s figure was higher during its first week of release, original Netflix series Stranger Things and Making A Murderer performed better over the full 32 days, receiving 9.81 and 9.1 percent, respectively.
As Netflix does not publicly release any streaming data, this highly technical and scarily invasive technique of measuring the popularity of their shows cannot be verified or compared within the same metric as the usual procedure for obtaining viewing figures for shows released on other platforms. However, Luke Cage had the benefit of the proven pre-existing Marvel fanbase, both on and off its platform and the character had the opportunity to establish interest prior to this series, via his involvement in Jessica Jones. The release was also well-timed in terms of the show's topical context (reflecting highly impacting social issues).
These figures may or may not have the same relevance as the data that only Netflix is privy to, but they do reflect audience involvement with the Luke Cage series that is evidence of its huge popularity. Hopefully this report will serve as an incentive for a second season of Luke Cage to get an official green-light, sooner rather than later.
Daredevil seasons 1 and 2, Jessica Jones season 1, and Luke Cage season 1 are now available on Netflix. Iron Fist will premiere on March 17, 2017. The Defenders and The Punisher will arrive in 2017. Premiere dates for the newest seasons of Jessica Jones and Daredevil have not yet been announced.