Maybe there really is something to the Netflix model after all. According to a new report in All Things D, Weeds creator Jenji Kohan's new Netflix series, Orange Is the New Black, managed to pull in more viewers than the Emmy-nominated and highly-anticipated Arrested Development and House of Cards—and it did it with little to no advertising.
Netflix has opted to remain mum on actual viewing numbers, claiming that since there are no advertisers, there's no reason to release real ratings, so this admission on their part is sort of a big deal. According to the site:
If you are looking for something concrete to say about Netflix’s foray into original programming, though, the company was willing to offer one tidbit, which it made a point of mentioning twice during its earnings call: Every time Netflix has rolled out a new show this year, its first-week ratings improved on the previous show.
That is: Arrested Development did better in its first week than House of Cards did in its first week, both in terms of viewer numbers and hours viewed. That isn’t a huge surprise, because House of Cards was a new show, and Arrested Development was a reboot of a series with a big fan base.
But Orange Is the New Black, which debuted earlier this month, did better than any other show Netflix has released…People are either watching it because Netflix suggests it (Netflix said more than 75 percent of viewing comes via its recommendation algorithms) or because people they know are suggesting it.
Weeds had a fairly large fanbase, and the book that Orange Is the New Black is based on was a New York Times Bestseller three years before the show premiered, so these things may factor in too. But the bottom line here is: If the show is good, sometimes people actually do take notice. Luckily for Orange Is the New Black, it didn't take a few years for everyone to figure that out, as was the case with Veronica Mars and Arrested Development.