IS NETFLIX’S ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING PULLING IN HBO’S FAITHFUL? PART II

Aug 2, 2016 | Insights

To get you up to speed, give the other entries in this series a quick perusal here. And have the whole danged thing explained in detail in the first entry here. You’ll be glad you did.

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The temptation to refer to the clear victor in a semi-competitive survey such as this — the group of lists written about in the last three entries — as the king (or queen) of this or that is tough to resist. While no metaphor is either more apt or obvious, we’ll resist it here.

Game of Thrones is the clear champ, smearing the competition, with really only Netflix’s House of Cards nipping at its nerdy heels (and Orange is the New Black an admirable opponent). Let’s pat ’em on their back, and move on.

They’ve been the number one or two show among the fans of more of the shows we’ve reviewed so far — regardless of the network of origin — than any other. Shows where the audience seems to have zero interest in HBO will still find their audience two, three, even six times more likely than the average social media user to follow the brought-to-life exploits of George R.R. Martin’s GoT universe.

Now here’s the biggest twist in the plot of all, look at which of the two, let’s call them, networks who clearly finds greatest favor with Thrones’ crowd. We believe their corporate overlords may not like that development one bit.

Only over-indexed (meaning exceeding the baseline average social media user) on three of HBO’s shows, and then to a degree either just above or below, one and a half times.

But then on the Netflix side, in terms of multiple, they comfortably exceed the average — by four and a half times — on a show that already has a sizable audience. Meaningful.

Perhaps the most curious piece of data we’ve unearthed thus far in this series of entries.

Anyway, Thrones and Cards have reigned supreme — as corrupt president and evil boy king — over this entire group of entries. This is the only finale that makes sense.

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Girls
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One of those shows spoken of and written about more than it’s actually viewed, we are reluctant fans (although last season made Hannah downright grotesque in her behavior, and the comedy was a bit too broad). The best thing about the show did not go undiscovered, and in fact went on to be one of the stars of one of the highest grossing films of all time (and for the silly job he had to do, he did it rather well).

That the competition’s also female-centric OITNB finds favor with with this crowd is unsurprising. The gay-centric Looking — a show that did not make waves nor inspire think pieces, nor certainly much in the way of ratings — was three times more likely to find fans among this crowd. Also, unsurprising.

Like we did with Kimmy Schmidt, we thought it would be fun to see how much this program’s New York-centricity, and insider’s view of the world, clearly makes it of vastly lesser interest to people outside of the NYC area.

First, witness the well-beyond impressive numbers it racks up in the New York metro area:

And then, for contrast, observe the somewhat more modest — albeit respectable — numbers on the west coast:

Finally, for more stark contrast, we need not go to Baton Rouge, or Birmingham, or Toledo. Indeed, we need not even travel 90 minutes south to the next nearest major city to witness encroaching apathy:

But, come next winter we’ll be tuning in. At least for the first episode. The end of last season, while featuring a bold and I suppose brave (?) performance from recurring guest star Gaby Hoffman, was a bit over the top and placenta-ey for my taste.

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Silicon Valley
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Here it is, the show we feel we cannot even comment on objectively.

Everyone who works in tech watches it, and the vast majority love it. When Valley co-creator Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead first came along, it soon became evident that it was a little smarter on closer analysis than initial appearances might have suggested. Little could anyone have guessed, however, that they were viewing the first major work from an artist who would slowly over the next 20 years reveal himself to be one of the most incisive (sometimes even prescient, if you’ve seen Idiocracy, you’ll know what we mean) and hilarious satirists and social commentators that America has produced this — and the latter part of last — century.

But as fans of King of the Hill already knew he’s also a gifted storyteller, with keen insight into human frailties, and our strange interactions. You care about the main characters on Valley, and root for them every step of the way, even as they’re hubristic, cowardly, arrogant, ignorant, and make misstep after misstep.

As we saw in the companion entry which highlighted Netflix’s line-up of shows, fans of the streaming service’s apparently taut, Emmmy winning thriller, Bloodline — for no reasons we can discern — love Silicon Valley, and the love is returned in kind.

When it comes to their own network, we already know what show they love most. Because Game of Thrones this, and Game of Thrones that, and why don’t you all just marry it already?!

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True Detective
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With a first season greeted by more hyperbolic, histrionic praise than even Breaking Bad or HBO’s own The Wire (perhaps the two shows most frequently said to be, by TV critics, “the best show in the history of television”). The Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey starrer was by design a one-off.

But at some point it was decided that this would become an anthology of sorts, with even truer detectives annually brooding and laying some dimestore philosophy — mostly lifted from classier comic books — on the nice people in their living rooms.

Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughan starred this time, and this time universal praise was not exactly the response; neither among the show’s fans, nor among critics. While the season did have its defenders, it was clearly a very different beast indeed from season one.

Not sure that means much, but the number ones on these lists are obvious and boring at this late point in this survey. The number TWOs however are unusual and worthy of mention.

On the Netflix side the Pablo Escobar bio-drama, Narcos — while viewed by less that 1% of the Detective audience — was still approaching a three-and-three-quarters greater likelihood of finding fans among Detective’s fans, than among the average social audience. Doesn’t say much for its ratings, but is the kind of stat from which a savvy marketer could launch all sorts of further investigations, and draw all sorts of interesting hypotheses.

On the HBO side, the Justin Theroux starring post-cataclysmic-event drama, The Leftovers — again, not a ratings powerhouse, and a show that only drew a portion of Detective’s audience constituting under 1% of the whole — found TD’s fans were nearly FIVE times more likely to be fans than the average.

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Veep
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Brought to HBO as a sort of American version of the British parliament based, savagely satirical comedy, The Thick of It (which most memorably featured in its excellent ensemble cast, current Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, in one of English language television’s most profane ever roles) . That show’s various seasons tended to revolve around a lower ranking workaday M.P., as well as a look inside the chambers of the “shadow cabinet” (or the leadership of the party in opposition to that in power). We assume the featured minister is New Labor in the first two seasons (although it’s never explicitly said), and then a Tory, working as part of an uneasy coalition with the Liberals in the third.

VEEP is superficially similar, with its handheld quasi-documentary camera work, rampant profanity, and characters who only care about retaining and/or gaining power, with actual talk of principle or even policy very rare indeed. And passion for such things never even passingly evident. Political expediency motivates everything the characters do. But the central character — at least nominally — from the outset wields far more power than anyone on Thick.

The creation of Armando Iannucci, a Scottish born and raised satirical genius (of Italian descent, as his name suggests). His British television credits include the seminal, early 90s surrealist fake news show, The Day Today — co-created with a man once routinely described as a “media scourge,” and brilliant satirist in his own right, Chris Morris (who directs some episodes of VEEP). Iannucci was also part of the trio responsible for the flawlesss, I’m Alan Partridge, co-created in part with the brilliant comic actor who embodies the title character, Steve Coogan. I’d like to take this chance, as a fan, to mention the tragically little seen but inconceivably brilliant, almost high-art existentialist sketch show The Armando Iannucci Shows (full episodes of which are readily available on YouTube).

Iannucci is nearly a household name in the U.K., but even after many Emmy wins for VEEP, and great ratings, as well as an Oscar screenplay nod for his movie In the Loop, he remains unknown here.

If Vince Gilligan were to have left Breaking Bad, they’d have been rioting in the streets. If David Chase had bailed on The Sopranos, they may have canceled the show altogether. But VEEP is continuing next season without Iannucci, and no one but nerds like the author of this entry even seem to know.

While in raw numbers, more VEEP fans watch Thrones. In terms of the metric that matters here, VEEPers are over nine times more likely to be Silicon Valley fans than the average. It makes sense that fans of good comedy would gravitate toward good comedy.

But House of Cards — sort of a dramatic VEEP in its way (and a remake of a British series, moving its Parliamentary shenanigans to the Beltway, also) — finds VEEPers 13 times more likely to be fans.

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Before Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton directed a flick based on his own screenplay. It seemed he had a thing for cautionary tales set at theme parks.

Released in theaters in 1973 (with a 1976, Peter Fonda starring sequel called Futureworld, with which Crichton wasn’t much involved), in addition to being a hit at the time, it was a fixture on cable in the 80s, and a favorite of many a late night TV viewer.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FvD6ilfrBw8

Yul Brynner starred as a pre-Terminator, relentless android cowboy, and from what we understand thanks to CGI his likeness apparently will be featured in this J.J. Abrams co-exec produced TV remake/sequel/whatever-it-is.

Seven times more likely to be fans of Daredevil than the average suggests who’s expressed interest in this property, which comes to HBO — via whatever screen you view it — as of October 2nd. Eighteen times more likely to be fans of Game of Thrones simply means they’re REALLY likely to be fans of GoT.

I believe we’ve established — beyond doubt and if we’ve established anything — that a lot of people like that danged show.

Hit us up on Twitter if you have any thoughts on any of the matters addressed anywhere within any of these entries.

Watch this space, as always. I think we’re visiting politics next. Giving the HBO thing a rest, but we shall return. WE SHALL ALWAYS RETURN.

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