February 14, 2014

THE SKED: “House of Cards” (Apparently) Returns With A Huge Start


Netflix is notoriously about as open with its viewership numbers as Frank Underwood is with his political agendas.  But Variety has unearthed a metric that suggests HOUSE OF CARDS has returned with its second batch of episodes to a massive leap in subscriber interest.  On one (unnamed) internet service, a full 15% of Netflix subscribers watched Episode 1 during a 6-8 hour period on Friday–last year, the same measure had only 2% of subscribers watching the show during its entire “opening weekend.”  Even Episode 4–and remember, this measurement was made during the first day of availability, and viewers would have had to watch 3 hours of the show just to reach that 4th episode–was seen by 8.5% of subscribers.

Obviously such a limited measurement is subject to distortion, and we have no idea whether these numbers apply to the entirety of Netflix members.  But assuming for the moment that they do, with approximately 31M US Netflix subscribers, 15% would mean that over 4.5M people watched Episode 1 on its first partial day.  That compares favorably with the 5M people that watched the initial airings of HBO’s Game of Thrones–the network’s biggest hit–last season, and it’s far more than the 2.5M viewers of a Homeland initial airing on Showtime.  At the very least, it demonstrates that in a very short time, Netflix has become a major force in TV programming–and Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black, which has 50% more subscriber ratings for its 1st season than House of Cards, is still to come.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."