How Long Does It Take to Get Hooked?

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When you start watching a new series, how long does it take you to get hooked? What’s the episode that takes you from “hmmm, this could be interesting” to “I gotta find out what happens next”?

Back in September (old news, I know, but I just read about it myself), Netflix revealed some of its findings based on its massive trove of viewer data. They examined data from around the world from January 2015 to August 2016, looking for what they called the “hooked episodes”: 70% of the people who watched that episode finished watching the entire first season. These “hooked episodes” are averaged to show the global results, but I’d also be curious to see the country-specific hooks:

Netflix Hooked
Image: Netflix

I have to admit: I haven’t seen most of the shows on this list, though I am about halfway through this great series called Stranger Things (have you heard of it?) and I’m also slowly making my way through Luke Cage—though the hook for that one probably came from watching Jessica Jones, really. And the opening episode of Voltron: Legendary Defender was enough to hook my entire family. The list makes me wonder, though: how long do you typically give a show before giving up on it or finishing it? Jane the Virgin and Gilmore Girls both have 7 episodes as the magic number—that seems to me like a lot to watch before committing. I mean, at that point, I’d probably just want to go ahead and finish, right?

As far as what it is that hooks us on a show, I was thinking about Stranger Things and the way that it evokes the ’80s, both in the show’s setting but also in the way that it is presented. Certainly for many viewers in my demographic, that was one of the big draws; there’s a nostalgia for that time period and Stranger Things capitalizes on that. Even if the story is new, it feels familiar. It reminded me of my reflections on Risk Legacy several years ago: what many of us want is something that is new, but not too new. More of the same, but not too much the same. It’s why so many people love Star Wars Episode VII and Voltron: Legendary Defender—because it has enough familiarity to feel comfortable, but there are some new situations to light up the novelty detectors in your brain. (And it’s also the reason why some people disliked the new Star Wars movie—because it wasn’t different enough.) That balance of the new and the old is always a tough one to strike, but I’m betting that with the success of reboots like Fuller House and Voltron and Gilmore Girls, we will be seeing more shows (on Netflix and elsewhere) that play to nostalgia while trying to hook new viewers.

What shows are you currently hooked on—and how long did it take to hook you?

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix Stream Team, and receive access to Netflix and media assets for coverage purposes.

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