Marvel Netflix Has Been A Success (Despite Viewership Drops)
The Marvel Netflix shows have been a subject of recent controversy, in light of the streaming giant's unexpected decision to pull the plug on Iron Fist and Luke Cage. Netflix is a data-driven company, and they tend not to provide the statistics that would explain their business decisions; however, third-party analytics have suggested that viewership has been dropping across the entire range.
For all that's the case, though, Parrot Analytic's data suggests that these brands are still very strong indeed. It's worth focusing in on The Defenders, which is particularly interesting given the series was released in August 2017, outside the date-range shown previously. In spite of that, it's still among the top 0.1 percent shows in the US in terms of demand over the last 12 months. That definitely suggests a sustained level of interest in the series. Interestingly, according to Parrot the three shows that have not been renewed by Netflix - The Defenders, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage - are the ones with the weakest brand. In the case of Iron Fist, it seems likely viewership just wasn't sufficient to meet the costs of production, believed to be around $40 million per season. In contrast, there have been reports Netflix attempted to save Luke Cage by negotiating for a shorter 10-episode season 3 rather than the 13-episode season they'd originally agreed to. That would make sense; this was presumably an attempt to cut costs and make the show more financially viable.
Notice the strength of Daredevil, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones, which are clearly the strongest Marvel Netflix brands. This correlates strongly with previous reports that Daredevil and The Punisher were outliers in terms of the overall Marvel Netflix viewing figures; Daredevil is a popular character who's even been star of a movie before, and his series has a level of brand recognition beyond any of the other shows. Meanwhile, the Punisher's brand is among the most ubiquitous in comic characters worldwide. As comic book writer Nathan Edmonson told ComicVine while discussing his run, "Soldiers wear him on their uniforms who haven’t read a comic in their lives; sex toys are nicknamed for him, racecars and wrestlers take on the skull or namesake, despite having little awareness of the actual comic."
It will be fascinating to see what the future has in store for the various Marvel Netflix series. It's generally believed that the relationship between Marvel Television and Netflix is growing fractious, in large part because Disney plan to launch the rival Disney Plus streaming site in late 2019. If that is the case, reports of contentious disagreement between the partners over the future of Luke Cage won't have helped. Still, given all these brands are as strong as Parrot Analytics report, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Marvel shop them elsewhere; perhaps they'll go to Hulu, which will reportedly be picking up Disney's mature and R-rated content once the Fox acquisition is completed.
Marvel Television's Niche Series Are Also Successes
Meanwhile, over the last 12 months Marvel Television has expanded with the production of two major young-adult superhero shows, Runaways and Cloak & Dagger, one airing on Freeform and the other on Hulu. According to Parrot Analytics, it's no surprise both shows were renewed; both sit within the top 0.03 percent of demand in the US market, a category Parrot classify as "Amazing." At Screen Rant's request, Parrot Analytics provided data revealing the strength of these two brands when compared to selected competitors such as Riverdale, Orphan Black, and Heroes.
It's important to note that the Runaways and Cloak & Dagger brands aren't as strong when assessed on a global scale. But there's a simple reason for that; they're not distributed as widely as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Netflix shows. Cloak & Dagger airs on ABC Spark in Canada, while Amazon Prime airs the series in the U.K. and to selected European countries. Runaways, meanwhile, airs on Showcase in Canada and on Syfy in the U.K.. That's it in terms of that series' international distribution; hopefully that will change, as it contains many thematic elements that, according to Parrot's data, make Luke Cage a hit in countries like France and Germany.
All this proves that the strength of Marvel Television's brand should not be underestimated. According to Parrot Analytics, a data science company even trusted by the Guinness Book of Records, Marvel TV shows are among the most in-demand content out there. It's time for Marvel fans to stop treating these shows as though they're the movies' "little brother," and instead embrace them as powerful brands in their own right.