- Netflix has found people decide whether to keep watching a show within its first five seconds.
- An exec at the streaming company shared the finding during a recent workshop for TV creators.
- He said an opening scene with a taste of the main character, conflict, and world can hook viewers.
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Netflix has found that people decide whether they’re going to keep watching a show nearly the moment press play.
Christopher Mack, director of talent investment and development at Netflix, said during a recent event for creative professionals that the company’s consumer-insights team has found audiences subconsciously decide whether they’re going to watch a show within five seconds of starting it.
Mack, speaking at a workshop hosted by entertainment-industry network Stage 32, likened the behaviour to a blind date, in an analogy he borrowed from the consumer-insights team. A person walks into a bar, sees their date at the table, and subtly forms in opinion about them. Still, they sit down and start a conversation in the hopes of finding some common ground.
Just as people want to make a good first impression on date, job interview, or other social interaction, Mack encouraged TV creators to use the first few seconds of a TV show as an opportunity draw audiences in, and perhaps change their minds if they think the show is not for them.
Mack said to hook audiences with a teaser, or an opening scene that gives viewers a taste of the show’s central character, conflict, and world. He also suggested starting every episode with a teaser, unless the episode picks up directly after dramatic events the last episode left off on.
“This is your opportunity to get your first ‘yes’ with a teaser,” Mack said. “They may tune in and their mind might say this might not be a show for them, but there might be something in that teaser that makes them want to stick around and see what’s going on.”