The Digital Impact of Netflix Originals

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Image from: Online Video / Shutterstock

It’s no secret that Netflix has paved the way for movie and television streaming services, revolutionizing the way we watch our favorite shows. In the past few years, however, Netflix has taken it one step further and produced our favorite shows. Starting in 2013 with the release of House of Cards, the wildly popular streaming service has changed the game with award-winning original content. House of Cards is set to release its fourth season in March 2016 and the continuously buzzed-about Orange is the New Black is set to release its fourth season this summer.

More recently, Netflix has been making waves with the controversial new documentary series, Making a Murderer, which was released on December 18, 2015. Having heard all of the hype about Netflix Originals (and binge watching many myself), I wanted to see what kind of impact this has had on their website’s traffic and keyword data.

I first took a look at the web traffic data for Netflix.com and noticed a 13% increase in unique visitors between May 2015 and June 2015. This trend appeared in June 2014 as well with a 9% increase in unique visitors MoM (month over month). Knowing that Orange is the New Black is one of Netflix’s most popular original series, I checked the release date for the show’s seasons and found that season two premiered in June 2014, and season three in June 2015, possibly contributing to the spike in unique visitors to the site. This upward trend of UVs didn’t stop in June, however. The growth continued through August resulting in a whopping 34.5% increase in unique visitors to Netflix.com between May 2015 and August 2015.

netflix_UVs

Could this pattern hold true for other Netflix original series? In the table below, you’ll find the most recent Netlfix original series, their release months, and the total Netflix.com MoM growth in unique visitors. The pattern is consistent:

netflix UVs

Is this all a coincidence though? Perhaps certain ad campaigns have increased traffic or certain months were simply more popular for binge watching endless shows and movies. To get a more specific idea of what’s driving traffic, I turned to the keyword data for Netflix.com. The data revealed that of the top ten non-branded keywords, four of them were the titles of Netflix original series.

  1. Google
  2. YouTube
  3. Jessica Jones
  4. Facebook
  5. Hulu
  6. Master of None
  7. Making a Murderer
  8. The 100
  9. House of Cards
  10. Amazon Prime

The newest Netflix original, Making a Murderer, has had explosive popularity, especially around Facebook advertising. I’ve noticed a much heavier presence of Netflix advertising on my newsfeed and I personally was drawn in by Facebook statuses of opinions on the verdict. Knowing that Compete PRO shows that over 20% of traffic going to Netflix.com came from social networking and social news sites in December 2015, it seems like I might not be the only one who has been enticed by the controversy. It also shows that social advertising is an effective channel for Netflix to promote their content.

Netflix co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings, may be surprised at December’s data having admitted he was unsure Making a Murderer would be a hit. In an interview with re/code Hastings stated that when he originally spoke with the filmmakers of Making a Murderer he thought, “This is going to be eight or 10 hours about a murderer? I hope it wins some awards, because it’s not going to be popular.” While news stories and Facebook shares have already proved the success of Making a Murderer, the December data may be able to support this as well. It will be interesting to see what January’s data brings as people continue to discuss the enthralling documentary as well as the rest of the 2016 series schedule.

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About Kali Hegarty:
Kali is currently the Business Development Associate at Millward Brown Digital. She received her B.A. in Communications at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You’ll most likely find her crafting every DIY project on Pinterest or playing guitar in her free time.