Netflix is giving people their Net fix, Nielsen says

Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are feeding "incredible binge appetites" for programming, the researcher says, with the vast majority of users watching at least three episodes of the same show in a single day.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
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House of Cards
Netflix's original series 'House of Cards' garnered nine Emmy nominations. Netflix

If you watched the entire season of "Orange Is the New Black" in one weekend, you're not alone. In fact, Nielsen says you have a lot of company.

According to an analysis of over-the-top video by the ratings and research company, 88 percent of Netflix users and 70 percent of Hulu Plus users report streaming three or more episodes of the same TV show in one day -- what is known as "binge" viewing.

In a win for Netflix's push for original programming, Nielsen reported 45 percent of Netflix streaming subscribers say the types of shows they watch when they stream are original programming, like "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards."


Netflix, which commands the largest share of the audience of streaming viewers, has been at the forefront of a original programming push from streaming-video services, including Hulu and Amazon's Prime Instant Video services as well.

Netflix has been devoting a sizable chunk of its content budget to homegrown, edgy shows like "House of Cards" with the aim of becoming the Internet's HBO. The company has even shifted to referring to itself as the "world's leading Internet television network" rather than the leading Internet video subscription.

Netflix has kept mum about how much its original programming pulls in subscribers and keeps them there, but Nielsen's findings suggest that original programming has quickly become a key factor in what its customers are coming to watch.

That is important as Netflix, now with more than 30 million domestic streaming members, has grown to such a size in the US that its pool of truly untapped potential subscribers is shrinking. With originals, it has greater control over the kind of content it offers its users -- and the timing of when those shows become available -- to heighten retention, which is critical amid a dwindling number of Internet-connected Americans who have never tried Netflix before.

It also bodes well for the Amazon and Hulu, which are working to catch up with Netflix by focusing quickly on originals of their own.

The popularity of bingeing also works in the favor of cable networks like AMC. The channel that airs lauded shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad" has credited Netflix for playing a big role in how popular those programs have become -- "The Walking Dead" season three was the top-rated scripted program during the last television season, a first for a cable channel.

The ability to binge prior seasons of the programs on services like Netflix, AMC has said, has expanded and deepened the audience for the shows.

The popularity of bingeing, however, probably does not bode well for our collective sleep deprivation.