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Netflix's Pandemic Docuseries - A programme report

Pandemic Documentary

Pandemic: How to Prevent a Crisis was released in January 2020 exclusively on Netflix across all its regions. The six-part docuseries produced by XG Productions and Zero Point Zero Production Inc. was “eerily timed” as noticed by The Guardian’s reviewer, Brigid Delaney.

Reading the initial review from early February is like looking through a time-window and seeing the world before half the globe shut down…

Eery timing aside, Netflix’s flexibility to control the presentation of its user interface, adapt to real-time changes and impact these changes on a worldwide stage  meant that they could capitalise on the timeliness of the Pandemic docuseries to draw in viewers.

Digital-i has created a report analysing the ways in which viewer behaviour and consumption of the Pandemic docuseries differ as a result of the newsworthy content, Netflix promotion and the life-changing rules felt in the UK from the 23rd of March.

Pandemic Overload

Viewing to the content mirrors the way that viewing to news and current affairs programmes spiked and then declined week-on-week during this lockdown period (with the further spikes for important announcements).

In essence, the show saw a spike in viewing just before Boris Johnson’s extraordinary announcement on the 23rd of March. Nevertheless, while Netflix shows usually enjoy high completion rates as story-hungry viewers binge through series; it seems that the biting reality of the documentary series did not make for easy watching. There was a huge tail-off of viewing from the first episode and a decrease in interest in the following weeks. 

Could it be that Netflix is not the platform that users associate with information and concentration? Of course, the streamer is full of documentaries, cerebal dramas and shows that make you think, but even the grittiest documentary is framed through the lens of entertainment, prioritising drama over impartial context. This theory is further evidenced by looking at the top programmes for week 1 of lockdown in our UK lockdown report.

The Netflix Pandemic Programme Report

Download the report: Pandemic Programme Report

Pandemic docuseries documentary

Digital-i is in the unique position of having access to FIGS, US, UK and Australian Netflix data spanning three years.

This data allows us to produce short reports about genres, programmes and viewing trends that will give independent producers and broadcasters an exclusive insight into Netflix’s blueprint for success as well as giving them a huge competitive advantage in a business where content is everything. 

For those with larger research teams, we offer SoDA, an online interactive dashboard that allows you to query the Netflix viewing database, identifying key release strategies, top programmes, shows that were all hype and no bite, and finally understand the staggering depth of the demand for good quality content on an easy-to-use streaming platform.


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