Netflix ‘Marvel’s The Defenders’ Is Least-Viewed Among Marvel Series in Debut Month in U.S., Study Finds

Turns out that as a crime-fighting quartet, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist together may be weaker than they are as solo vigilantes.

“Marvel’s The Defenders,” featuring the street-hero characters, was the least-watched Netflix Marvel original series premiere in the U.S. as measured over the first 30 days of viewership, according to an analysis by Jumpshot, a marketing-analytics firm.

For the comparison, Jumpshot created an index benchmarking each of the Netflix Marvel series against the top-viewed of the bunch, which was “Daredevil” season 2 in March 2016. Following its Aug. 18 premiere, “The Defenders” clocked in with just 17% of the viewership that “Daredevil” season two received in the first 30 days. The study looked at Netflix U.S. subs who watched at least one episode of each series.

Compared with “The Defenders,” the previous premieres of “Iron Fist,” “Luke Cage” and “Jessica Jones” performed relatively equally in the first 30 days, accounting for 28%, 27% and 26% of “Daredevil” season 2’s viewership, respectively. In addition to being the least-viewed of the group, “The Defenders” also had the largest week-over-week drop in viewership, declining by 67%, 48% and 41%, respectively, over the 30-day period, per Jumpshot.

Netflix doesn’t release viewing data, leaving industry players to rely on estimates from third parties. But execs from the streaming-video company have routinely questioned the validity of attempts to gauge consumption on its global platform.

Moreover, Netflix evaluates the full performance of its content on its VOD service over a longer span than just 30 days. But the initial consumption of a series is often a good indicator of its long-term performance, and it’s worth noting that “The Defenders” showed a significant drop in viewers in the first month on the service.

The eight-episode miniseries “Marvel’s The Defenders” tells the story of Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones), who reluctantly band together to save New York City from criminal mastermind Alexandra Reid (Sigourney Weaver).

Why did “The Defenders” mashup get a colder shoulder than its predecessor series? One explanation may be that each of the individual street heroes appeals to different kinds of viewers, at least among Netflix members who had never watched content tagged as in the “superhero” genre before.

According to a Netflix news release, one-eighth of the viewers for the Marvel street-hero series were new to the comic-book genre. Among this group of newbies, “Daredevil” viewers gravitate toward storylines featuring antiheroes and moral ambiguity; “Jessica Jones” attracted those attuned to “sharp humor and dark crime”; “Luke Cage” watchers tended to prefer stories about “dangerous worlds and complex consequences”; and “Iron Fist” drew in fans of coming-of-age tales.

For the data on Netflix originals, Jumpshot looked at the viewing behavior and activity of the company’s U.S. members. The San Francisco-based company analyzes anonymized click-stream data from a panel of more than 100 million internet consumers, amounting to some 160 billion individual data points per month. The data excludes viewing that occurs on connected-TV platforms or Netflix mobile apps, but Jumpshot says its benchmark analysis reflects aggregate viewing on the platform.

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