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This might be why Netflix cancelled Jupiter's Legacy but not Shadow and Bone

Jupiter's Legacy
(Image credit: Netflix)

This week, Netflix confirmed it's making Shadow and Bone season 2. Last week, it cancelled superhero drama Jupiter's Legacy – or at least, confirmed that it was making a villain-themed spin-off as a follow-up, rather than a second season, with the cast being released from their contracts. 

While we learned that 55 million member households tuned in for Shadow and Bone, Netflix didn't say anything about how many people watched the comic book drama. Now, though, a third-party has weighed in, comparing the level of interest between the two shows among US audiences – and their findings suggest that Jupiter's Legacy burned brightly at launch, then dropped off after a couple of weeks.

Reelgood, a streaming service which uses a 'streaming and engagement shares' metric from more than a 2 million US-based users, says Jupiter's Legacy started okay with a score of 3.4%. By week 4, however, that had dropped to 1.3% of its streaming and engagement shares. By comparison, Shadow and Bone started with a lower 2.7%, but grew to 3.8% by week 3 – suggesting a healthy word-of-mouth about the show (by week 4, Reelgood says it went back down to 2%). 

Overall, though, Jupiter's Legacy performed better by Reelgood's metric than another recently-cancelled Netflix show – The Irregulars. 

There are many caveats to this data: it only measures from a (fairly large) sample size, and a US-based one at that. Netflix is also a global streaming service, so it doesn't factor in international viewing behavior, which likely informs all of the streamer's decisions to renew or cancel a show. 

That said, Reelgood also used Netflix's own publicly available information to make a point about how Jupiter's Legacy performed versus other shows. On Netflix's top 10 charts in the US, Jupiter's Legacy had six non-consecutive days at number one – Shadow and Bone, meanwhile, had 12. Last year's smash hit chess drama The Queen's Gambit amassed 23 days at number one, which gives you an idea of the range in play.

According to data company Nielsen, 696 million minutes of Jupiter's Legacy were streamed in the US by May 9, which seemed like a strong start. The series launched on May 7.

Keep reading for our take on what this data means.

Analysis: word of mouth matters

As members of the media, we're constantly sent the results of some survey or another – it wouldn't be a surprise to get a press release about why Star Trek fans prefer strawberry yoghurt to raspberry, for example. Not all of it is equal.  

With Netflix, any data based on real audience trends is interesting, simply because the streaming service limits releasing detailed information about how many people watch its shows or movies. We get the top-line data, like which 10 Netflix original films were the most streamed ever at launch, but not many specifics in terms of when people decide to watch a show. 

Even if this specific isn't data from Netflix itself, then, it's interesting to see a pattern emerge with shows that get cancelled. Launching strongly isn't necessarily enough – having a long tail might be more important to the streaming service, which suggests word of mouth counts for a lot with your favorite Netflix shows.

The buzz a show gets on social media matters a lot, then. If you like a show, shout about it – though Netflix might still cancel it anyway.