Zou Bisou! Netflix Says It Brought a Million New Viewers to “Mad Men.”

Published on May 23, 2012
by Peter Kafka

“Mad Men” is in its fifth season, and the AMC show is more popular than ever. This year’s debut episode attracted 3.5 million viewers, up more than a million from last’s season’s 2.4 million average.

You’re welcome, says¬†Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos.

Sarandos, speaking at a panel at the cable industry’s annual convention in Boston, took credit for the bump, citing Netflix viewership for the show’s repeats.

“These are people who had four years to watch the show, and didn’t,” he said. But after catching up on the earlier seasons, they tuned in for the fifth.

Netflix wants to boast about stories like this, because it highlights the fact that it still has in-demand content, and because it bolsters its argument that it can help TV networks, not hurt them. And there may well be evidence to support that.

But it’s important to note that Sarandos’ comments came when he was defending Netflix from the flip side of that argument — that some networks, like Viacom’s Nickelodeon, may be hurt by Netflix. Both Viacom and Netflix say that’s not the case, but the critique has traction with various Netflix skeptics.

Meanwhile, here’s another data point from the panel that indicates that Netflix customers are watching something on the service: Cox Communications President Pat Esser said 40 percent of his four million broadband customers generated a Netflix ¬†stream in March.

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