UPDATE: As of 8/8 Netflix has announced that it has renewed Sense8 for a second season. Timing has not been announced.
UPDATE: Per JMS at the SDCC2015 Sense8 Panel on Friday 7/10, Netflix will announce their decision about renewing Sense8 in around two weeks. I see this public specification of a possible time frame as directly related to the possible negative publicity created by a small group of highly vocal fans, whose purposefully newsworthy anxiety has been the subject of some stories and headlines in the media.
After recent "trending parties" on Twitter, folks have been asking me if these might actually help Netflix in their decision about renewing Sense8. The short answer is "no."
It's possible that it will might make slightly more of a difference than fan organized input makes with broadcast TV, where ratings are king, the demo determines ad dollars earned, and fan input doesn't affect the bottom line.
Sense8 is a huge hit for Netflix. They've invested millions on it. It's a fantastic addition to their goal of releasing original content every three weeks. Happy cast members have stated that they thought Sense8 would only (hopefully) be a cult hit. Lucky for us, they were wrong. Sense8 is much more than a cult favorite.
Since the recent efforts to create Sense8 trends on Twitter, several cast members have hinted that there is no need for these, or for petitions, etc. Logistics. The wheels are turning. It's a very complex thing to pull together. Timing for announcing is paramount. You don't spend millions on a successful series, then hurry up that big announcement for a second season because the fans are a bit restless.
Netflix doesn't sell ad time, so it keeps its ratings private (a huge coup for several reasons). Journalists can't make hay from the ratings demo, and we can't check the Cancellation Bear to see if we should be worried. This does not mean the folks over at Netflix are not busy.
Netflix knows exactly what you watch (and probably when your bathroom breaks are). They are always looking closely at their internal database about who watches, how many episodes, how many times, etc., and how many stars viewers give a program, data that is plotted in great detail over time for trends. These internal metrics are an immensely powerful tool in their decision making process about original content and season renewals.
So, logistics, numbers.... and timing. Netflix is on a roll, and they learn more every day about when to announce a new program or season so as to make a bigger splash—without competing with other Netflix program publicity. This week, the pickup for a second season of Netflix original Between was announced. Now is not the time to announce a Sense8 pickup. Netflix is juggling a bunch of new titles, and must decide when and in what order to announce them to maximize promotional effectiveness and viewer interest.
It's fun to watch them learn.
Interesting factoid: The streaming business model at Amazon is somewhat different from Netflix. Since Amazon owns IMDb, they use IMDb ranking metrics in their decision process about Amazon original content, (which includes the amazing Amazon original series BOSCH, with Titus Welliver, in production now for a second season). They also use data from Amazon online retail, and sell many of their streaming titles (both streaming and on DVD), which Netflix does not do.
For us ratings nerds: Have you heard of the new Digital Audience Rating - DAR rank for streaming TV? It's published every Tuesday in Variety, and also rates broadcast and late night, and includes trending up or down data. I believe Sense8 was in the top ten in the streaming category when it was first released. It's interesting (for ratings nerds like me) to see what programs are in the top ten every week.