Netflix is a cultural phenomenon that has taken over hearts and minds around the world and made it nearly impossible for us to hang out with friends, go to school, or fight the temptation to use that last sick day to spend it watching the entire first season of Gotham (newly added!) in bed. But Netflix has also been doing something behind the scenes: crunching numbers. And it knows everything about you. Well, at least exactly which episode hooked you into that six-hour marathon of Breaking Bad.
Wondering when exactly you got hooked on Arrow or Orange Is the New Black? Variety reports that it definitely wasn’t during the pilot. None of the shows studied, in fact, sucked viewers in with their first episodes. Some shows, like Arrow or How I Met Your Mother didn’t even hook many viewers until episode eight. But that’s when casual viewing stopped and hardcore bingeing began.
For example, in “Breaking Bad” season one, the “hook” was episode 2: The one in which Jesse Pinkman dissolves a drug rival in a bathtub — and the disintegrated remains crash down through the ceiling. For prison dramedy “Orange Is the New Black” (pictured above), which Netflix execs have said is the service’s most-watched original series, it’s episode 3. That’s when Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba, who just won a Primetime Emmy for the role) drops both poems and fluids in the course of her imagined romance with Piper (Taylor Schilling).
Netflix claims that they won’t use any of the data to retool their shows—like putting in more emotional hooks in the first few episodes—but points out that the numbers suggest that their decision to release full seasons of a show at one time is “more aligned with how fans are made.” Seems it’s harder to keep someone coming back week to week, but 12 hours of Better Call Saul on a Sunday? Yeah, you’ve got a little time for that.
Only a few of the 20 shows surveyed got viewers hooked right away, but some definitely got their claws into viewers faster than others. Mad Men and The Blacklist, for instance didn’t suck in viewers until episode six, but Suits, The Walking Dead, and Sons of Anarchy made you ache for another hour of sweet, sweet entertainment after only two episodes.
Even if Netflix doesn’t use this data to alter how shows are produced (although it’s a little hard to believe they wouldn’t use metrics like these to get you invested faster), I have an idea for what it can do with them: Stop bothering viewers with that whole “are you still watching?” business. You know damn well that I’ve been watching Gossip Girl for the past six hours, Netflix. And based on your own numbers, you know I’m not going to stop until I’ve finished the entire series. (It would definitely make lots of us feel better about that whole price hike that’s coming.)