While online TV and linear schedules are generally seen on different markets, Netflix appear to have made it their duty to claim that they are responsible for the recent upturn in success of AMC drama Mad Men, suggesting that the show’s prominence on the online streaming site has given it a cult status that has translated directly to higher network ratings.
Entering its fifth season, Mad Men were going in off the back of a fourth season average of 2.3m viewers, though the recent premiere drew 3.5m, meaning that in the time period between seasons, the show seems to have taken a fairly large boost in popularity, and seems to follow on from recent prophetic comments made by AMC’s CEO Josh Sapan.
Netflix are considered by many (including themselves) to be the key reason for the upturn in fortunes, with the 3.5m noted as being a record for the series, which revolves around a 1960’s advertising agency, and its creative director Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm, who is due to headline alongside Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in a new show for UK satellite channel Sky Arts).
Netflix’s ‘chief content officer’ Ted Sarandos boasted of the suggestions that his company helped the show on its way (also using the statement as a defence to recent claims that they have the opposite ratings effect on children’s networks such as Nickelodeon): “We brought maybe a million viewers to AMC. These are people who had four years to watch the show [before Netflix took on the online rights], and didn’t, then we gave them the opportunity to watch the show in a well-priced and well-distributed model. In that way we’re quite additive.”
Speaking at the annual Cable Show in Boston (USA), Sarandos added of the rumours that Netflix have taken viewers from Nickelodeon: “People’s taste are so diverse that no specific program or network has such high viewing concentration that you’d see that cause and effect on ratings.”
Having developed as a dominant and respected force for rebroadcasting network content online, Netflix are currently looking to continue their development of original programming, and with what they claim to be cold hard proof that they can get people interested in TV shows, will any future Netflix formats ever end up on linear schedules to popular effect?