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‘House of Cards’ Binge-Watching: 2% of U.S. Subs Finished Entire Series Over First Weekend

Binge-watching on the rise compared to drama series' first season

There are some dedicated “House of Cards” fans out there.

Approximately 2% of Netflix subscribers on U.S. broadband networks took the weekend to polish off all 13 episodes of the second season of the original drama series, which was made available in its entirety last Friday. Data comes from broadband technology firm Procera Networks, which tracked three different U.S. Internet service providers and four European ISPs. (Procera also provided first-day data Friday).

The appetite for “Cards” in Europe was only slightly less rabid, with 1% of subs gorging on the entire second season. However, European Netflix subs averaged higher binge-watch numbers than American subs, averaging five episodes watched over the weekend, compared to three in the U.S.

But the U.S. can still take pride in having bested its opening-weekend binge-watch patterns from the first season. Four times as many people watched at least one episode over the weekend stateside of the second season compared to “Cards'” rookie season.

Netflix, which does not disclose usage data, reported 31.7 million U.S. subs last month, and a total of 44 million subs worldwide. The company does not break out sub levels in specific territories. It’s a rough estimate considering Procera’s data doesn’t track all U.S. ISPs, but if the 2% figure is representative of its entire subscriber base, that could mean as many as 634,000 viewers polished off 13 hours of content over three days. The only stat that might provide a comparison is Netflix’s own disclosure in 2012 that 50,000 subs watched the entire 13-episode fourth season of “Breaking Bad” the day prior to its fifth-season premiere on AMC. But Netflix wasn’t as popular then, nor was binge-viewing for that matter.

Also interesting: The “Cards” frenzy didn’t trigger any uptick in Netflix’s overall traffic, which stayed at typical levels. That’s likely attributable to the fact that Netflix isn’t a hit-driven service; the company’s execs have always maintained that its library is deep enough that it isn’t reliant on any one program.

The overall takeaway: No big surprises here. “Cards” was bound to attract a small fervent core audience, one in excess of the first season when the series had little familiarity to U.S. auds beyond the British version from which it was adapted. It’s not like the amount of viewers that is going to have the time and will to sit through 13 hours of a show in a matter of days is going to grow significantly, though the measurement is a good indication of just how passionate a fan base “Cards” has that will be interesting to compare to Netflix’s other originals, including “Orange is the New Black,” which returns to Netflix in June.

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