It's rare that a new TV show would hook fans in immediately. It often takes two or three episodes for a new show to really get rolling, and eventually reward patient viewers. Pilot episodes have too much to introduce to viewers to really showcase a given show's full appeal.
Netflix is well aware of this phenomenon, which is why they have begun releasing lists of the "hooked episodes" of their most popular series. The "hooked episode" is exactly what it sounds like, the point at which you became hooked on a particular TV series. A new study suggests that many shows hook viewers within the first four episodes, regardless of format or subject matter.
A press release from Netflix released the newest list of "hooked episodes," which the company described as "the key episode that kept 70 percent of viewers watching until the end of the first season." The list includes both Netflix original series and popular, non-Netflix shows that have been added to their catalog. The release says that Netflix researched viewers from six continents to "pinpoint the episode that took watchers from casual to committed."
As far as Netflix original series, the "hooked episode" for Stranger Things and The Get Down was episode two. For Narcos and Marseille, it was episode three. On the reality side of things, Making a Murderer didn't hook over 70 percent of viewers in until its fourth episode. Outside addition Gilmore Girls, meanwhile, didn't hook Netflix viewers in until its seventh episode. This graphic shows the range of "where fandom begins" for several other shows that viewers can stream on the network:
Netflix concluded from the study that most viewers can become hooked on a new show regardless of subject matter, as long as it tells a good, addictive story. Netflix vice president of original content, Cindy Holland had the following to say on that matter:
“The Internet allows us to share these stories with a global audience and what we see from the data is how similar our members watch and respond. The hooked findings give us confidence that there is an appetite for original and unique content all over the world, which is why we’re excited to deliver variety in stories to our members, whether they’re political dramas from France or musical dramas from the Bronx.”
The study proves what most viewers already know, that good stories are a hallmark of any great series that keeps viewers coming back. It also shows that viewers might not be so patient if a new series can hook them within the first two-to-four episodes, even if it does reach new heights after that point. Netflix has to hope that its newest original content hooks viewers sooner rather than later, especially if they aspire for half of their content to be original.