Is Orange the New Black? Viewership Analysis and Metrics

Posted: 19th August 2013
Is Orange the New Black? Viewership Analysis and Metrics

Recently, I read this article on BuzzFeed about Orange Is the New Black. For those who don’t know, “Orange Is the New Black is the latest show, and some would say greatest show, in Netflix’s ambitious foray into original series for its subscription service.”

Netflix isn’t releasing viewer numbers for it’s new shows, and the streaming media giant has received quite a bit of flack from competitors for not sharing viewership metrics. Or as the BuzzFeed writer stated:

*“It’s impossible to know how widely watched ‘Orange Is the New Black’ is.”*

Challenge accepted!

This got me thinking Recorded Future might offer some insights into how much online attention Orange Is the New Black is getting compared to other shows on premium networks like HBO, home of Game of Thrones , or compared to AMC basic cable hits Mad Men and Breaking Bad .

While we at Recorded Future typically focus on things like geopolitical events, corporate activities, or cyber threats, we’re now capturing and mining a large enough segment of the open web (more than 250,000 sources) that our temporal index often serves as a nice barometer for the population’s attention.

First, let’s look at the facts we do know: Netflix has about 29.17 million subscribers, which is just slightly more than HBO’s 28.7 million. Thanks to Wikipedia, we also know viewership numbers by episode for popular shows (excluding Netflix).

While Netflix isn’t releasing metrics, we can baseline Recorded Future data based on shows that do release viewer numbers, and determine if our data can serve as a proxy for viewership. It looks like Orange Is the New Black ( OITNB ) lags far behind. This makes sense since we know Game of Thrones has higher viewership (4.7M) than Mad Men (2.6M) or Breaking Bad (~2.4M).


You may be thinking, OITNB isn’t even in the running.

Whoa there, sport.

OITNB has only been out since July 11, just over one month. Also OITNB is in it’s first season, the others have been around for quite a while, and are in at least their third season. Further complicating things, OITNB doesn’t run weekly like traditional network shows.

However, we do have enough data to start making some basic predictions. We’ll also throw in Boardwalk Empire to make things even (two AMC shows: Breaking Bad , Mad Men and two HBO shows: Boardwalk Empire , Game of Thrones ).


By plotting the number of references in the first week of each show’s current season versus known viewer counts (thanks Wikipedia) we can make an educated guess of viewers for OITNB .

Based on these calculations Orange Is the New Black already has over three million viewers, just weeks after it’s initial streaming debut.

This is quite strong considering Breaking Bad , Mad Men , and Boardwalk Empire typically have less than three million viewers.