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Netflix Data Reveals Viewers’ Distinct Genre Preferences at Different Times of Day

Netflix released an analysis of customer viewing patterns in 22 countries over a six-month period — showing that audiences worldwide skew toward comedies, dramas, thrillers and nonfiction programming during specific hours of the day.

The subscription-video leader found that overall tastes change with the hands of the clock: People prefer comedies in the morning; dramas during midday hours; thrillers in primetime; comedies (again) in late-night; and documentaries in the wee hours.

Netflix’s goal with the research is to point out that with video-on-demand, viewers aren’t beholden to the TV programming grid. “For years our lives had to fit around television,” Netflix VP of content Cindy Holland said in announcing the results. “Now it’s the other way around.”

Of course, the company didn’t invent VOD — and DVRs arguably have done just as much to break viewers free from the shackles of TV’s live schedule. But Netflix can stake the claim to popularizing internet subscription VOD for a low monthly price.

According to Netflix’s research, customers kick off the day with comedies. At about 6 a.m., they’re 34% more likely to watch a comedy series like “The Office” or “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” compared with other times. Between noon and 2 p.m., viewers favor dramas a la “Orange Is the New Black” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” which account for 47% of video watched during the time period (an increase of 5% versus the rest of the day).

During evening hours, thrillers like “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Stranger Things” see a rise in viewing on Netflix, streaming of shows in the genre at about 9 p.m. increasing 27% relative to other dayparts. Then by 11 p.m., Netflix viewers tend to swing back toward comedies (the company cited as examples “Parks and Recreation,” “Master of None” and “Bojack Horseman”).

Between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., documentaries are more popular. During the six-hour span, which accounts for 15% of total streaming activity, documentary films and series like “Making a Murderer” and “Planet Earth” see a 24% increase in viewing.

Other findings from Netflix’s data analysis:

  • Peak streaming periods vary by country: The definition of “primetime” is as early as 5 p.m. in India to as late as 10 p.m. in Argentina, Mexico and Singapore.
  • Family content is popular all day long in some regions: Consumption of kids’ and family programming overindexes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Germany, Spain and Italy compared to the rest of the world, where such fare is more concentrated in the morning hours. In the U.S., kids and family content is twice as likely to be viewed at 8 am on the weekends compared to the rest of the week.
  • Tuesday is Netflix day in Japan: The Land of the Rising Sun is the only country in the world where Tuesday is the highest streaming day of the week.
  • Brazil is a nation of lunchtime binge-viewers: Midday streaming is especially prevalent in the country, where Netflix members are 25% more likely to watch shows between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. compared with the rest of the world.

Netflix based the analysis on six months of streaming data, measuring about 77 million accounts monthly on an anonymized basis. The company tracked viewing behavior in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Spain, France, the U.K., India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, and the U.S. Netflix noted that the example shows it cited for each genre are not not necessarily the most-viewed in a time slot.

Pictured above (l. to r.): “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “The Walking Dead,” “Parks & Recreation”

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