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Study: Netflix’s changing user base

October 11, 2017

By Colin Mann

Not only has Netflix’s audience grown significantly in the past two years, but the composition of its user base has changed dramatically as well, according to a DeepProfile study from consumer intelligence research platform CivicScience.

Back in May of 2015, CivicScience published a detailed study on the profile of Netflix users, as well as people who didn’t use the service yet but appeared poised to do so. Among a range of findings were signs of an emerging segment of parents signing up around that time.

Two-and-almost-a-half years later, Netflix Nation has grown and evolved in ways which CivicScience says it couldn’t have imagined back then. Today, approximately 50 per cent of US adults watch streaming content on Netflix at least occasionally, while 29 per cent watch a few times per week or more. In October of 2015, only 39 per cent of US adults watched Netflix and 23 per cent watched weekly.  “That’s an addition of several million new Netflix junkies in a fairly short amount of time,” notes the firm.

The DeepProfile report details the demographic and psychographic differences between Netflix’s current user base, its user base in October of 2015, and the general US population. CivicScience compared the two groups across hundreds of dimensions, from their gender and income, to the TV genres they prefer, to the types of restaurants they frequent.

Among the findings:

  • Today’s Netflix population is much more gender-balanced, showing a rise in the number of male users over the past two years.
  • The average income of Netflix users has risen significantly.
  • One of the biggest has been among parents, who represented only 32 per cent of users in October 2015 but 48 per cent of users today.
  • New Netflix users are much more heavily influenced by social media in their shopping and entertainment decisions, which could explain why they gave in to the Netflix seduction in the first place.
  • Early Netflix users were much more price-sensitive than the new generation, suggesting that the platform’s early appeal was its cost relative to other forms of TV.
  • New Netflix users are more likely to be foodies, following trends in food and cooking, cooking dinner for their families, and researching recipes online.
  • Both groups watch TV less than average overall.
  • New Netflix users are much more likely to be concerned about things such as climate change and buying environmentally-friendly products.

CivicScience founder and CEO John Dick also took a closer look at the consumers who told the company they don’t currently watch Netflix but are planning to. This group represents about 8 per cent of the current US population, up from 7 per cent in the 2015 numbers. “No surprise, they’re more likely to be older, particularly 55+. But they’re also more likely to be unemployed, meaning that they could just be waiting to subscribe to Netflix once they have a steady income. People who are documentary fans over-index in this ‘planning to’ segment, which could provide a window into what will push them over the fence. The next wave is much more likely to come from urban centres,” he suggests.

“There’s no sign in our data that Netflix’s user growth is going to slow down anytime soon. We’re tracking these population shifts every day, so we’ll know if anything changes. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Netflix Nation look more and more like the full US population over the next two years,” he concludes.

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