It was a big summer for fans of Netflix's Marvel television series. Because last month brought the highly anticipated miniseries The Defenders, which united all four heroes in an epic battle to save New York City from destruction. While the concept of crossovers had the fandom practically salivating, did enough people actually tune in to watch the eight episode series? Critics were mixed about the quality of the opening episodes, and now it appears that Netflix subscribers didn't watch the event as much as they watched all four solo series (including the critically panned Iron Fist).
While Netflix doesn't release its viewership, marketing analytic team Jumpstart (via Variety) estimated how successful The Defenders was, and compared each series to Season 2 of Daredevil, which is the most popular season of any Netflix/Marvel shows. It turns out that The Defenders only accrued 17% of the viewership what Daredevil's sophomore season received in its first 30 days available on the platform.
To add insult to injury, this seems to be the lowest ratings of any of Netflix's Marvel series, if Jumpstart's estimates are to be believed. Because Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all fared better, raking up 26%, 27%, and 28% of Daredevil Season 2's immediate viewership, respectively. So it turns out that while The Defenders was the accumulation of years of content, the finished product didn't actually enthrall Netflix subscribers the way each solo series did.
This news is pretty surprising, leading fans to wonder how and why The Defenders became the black sheep of the family. There are a few possibilities that may have contributed to the miniseries being less beloved than its predecessors, so let's break them down.
To start, The Defenders was the first of Marvel's Netflix shows to premiere during the summer. The four solo shows each premiered during the regular television year, which is a time where movr avid TV audiences are glued to the small screen. August is a tough month to sell, as many folks are vacationing and generally less invested in TV-- except for Game of Thrones of course.
Pacing may have also been an issue, and why Netflix subscribers may have given up on The Defenders after an episode or two. The miniseries slowly and methodically brought the four heroes together, taking quite a few episodes before their big hallway battle finally united the vigilantes. It's a possibility that less patient viewers may have gotten frustrated and tuned out when the series didn't open with Daredevil and Jessica Jones kicking ass together.
The final possibility is that Iron Fist's less-than-stellar opening journey turned people off. Danny Rand's solo series was by far the least stylized and gripping, and he didn't far much better when he reprised his role in The Defenders.