marvel on netflix : the defenders

Photo via Marvel's The Defenders/Netflix

‘The Defenders’ was a bust—and here are the numbers to prove it

'The Defenders' attracted a fraction of the audience for other Marvel shows.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 21, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 4:45 pm CDT

Marvel Studios became the envy of Hollywood with The Avengers, attracting a massive audience by combining multiple sub-franchises. But on Netflix, this strategy seems to have backfired.

According to audience estimates from its first 30 days on Netflix, The Defenders is Marvel’s least popular Netflix show to date. And yes, that includes the horribly-reviewed Iron FistThe Defenders featured the heroes from all four Marvel/Netflix shows, yet it only attracted a fraction of their individual viewership.

Unlike traditional TV channels, Netflix doesn’t release audience viewing data. So, these viewership estimates come from a third party: the analytics firm Jumpshot. It studied Netflix subscribers who watched at least one episode of Marvel’s other Netflix shows, and discovered that The Defenders earned just 17 percent of the viewership Daredevil achieved in its first month of season 2.

While Jumpshot’s figures aren’t as reliable as official numbers from broadcast TV, they’re backed up by the critical and audience response to The Defenders. Netflix announced the show several years before it went into production, billed as a team-up series without any showrunners attached—and without a specific concept beyond combining the four main characters. When it finally arrived, it was criticized for being slow-moving and adding nothing new to the franchise. Despite the automatic media attention awarded to any new Marvel project, the fandom buzz died out within days of its release.

As Variety points out, these audience numbers aren’t the be-all and end-all of success on Netflix. Although its ratings dropped drastically after its first week online, The Defenders may attract more viewers as new fans discover the other Marvel shows. And whatever happens, it’s part of a franchise that undoubtedly brought many new subscribers to Netflix.

H/T Variety

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*First Published: Sep 21, 2017, 7:25 am CDT