Washington, D.C. (February 5, 2013) -
Only two percent of Netflix's streaming customers watched the
first episode of its new, highly-publicized original drama,
House of Cards, according to Procera, which measures Internet
use among cable and telco services.
Netflix refuses to reveal its own show ratings, but if the Procera numbers are true, it means that only about 540,000
Netflix streaming subscribers watched the first episode.
(Netflix has 27 million streaming subs so two percent would come
At this point, it's dicey to evaluate the success -- or lack
their of -- of the show's debut. (Netflix added all 13 House of
to its library last Friday.) But if we compare the Procera numbers
to HBO, which has around 30 million subscribers (close to
Netflix's 27 million), House of Cards would have to be
considered a ratings disappointment thus far.
Any new HBO show that draws fewer than one million subscribers
for its debut is regarded as a ratings disappointment, although the
network will often keep the show afloat if it receives
widespread critical praise.
One could argue, however, that comparing Netflix to HBO is
comparing apples to oranges. HBO shows debut in specific time
slots while House of Cards was simply added to the Netflix
library on Friday and subscribers could watch it at any time.
But the small number of Netflix subscribers who have chosen to
watch it has to be considered a disappointment to Netflix
executives who have committed $100 million to two seasons of
House of Cards. Plus, Netflix is betting heavily that its original
programming will distinguish itself from other streaming
services and possibly carve away viewers from traditional
premium channels such as HBO.
The online video service also spent an enormous amount of money
on promoting House of Cards and the show was largely feted by an
adoring press corps who lavished praise in particular for show
star Kevin Spacey who plays a ruthless politician in Washington,
On the plus side for Netflix, the Procera stats show that many
people who did watch the first episode of House of Cards watched
subsequent episodes as well. In fact, 1.3 percent of its total
streaming sub base watched episode two.