Netflix releases most transparent data to date about viewership

Dec 13, 2023, 9:53 AM

Netflix said "The Night Agent" racked up 812.1 million hours of viewing in its newly released engag...

Netflix said "The Night Agent" racked up 812.1 million hours of viewing in its newly released engagement report. Mandatory Credit: TNA_DP_103_041822_00542/DAN POWER/NETFLIX

New York (CNN) — In a major step in transparency, Netflix for the first time released on Tuesday a report of what people watched on the streaming service during a six-month period.

The report, titled “What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report,” is set to be published twice a year, going forward, the company said in a memo.

The report measures the hours viewed for every title, the premiere date and whether the title was available globally. The report only included titles that had more than 50,000 hours viewed.

It’s among the most in-depth metrics Netflix has released about its subscriber engagement. As part of the Writers Guild of America contract ratified in October, streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ pledged to increase transparency about how many hours certain programs are streamed.

This report covers 18,000 titles, measuring views from January to June 2023. Here’s what viewers spent the most hours watching:

• The Night Agent, season 1 (812,100,000 hours)
• Ginny & Georgia, season 2 (665,100,000 hours)
• The Glory, season 1 (662,800,000 hours)
• Wednesday, season 1 (507,700,000)
• Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (503,000,000)

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said during a conference call about the report that the most effective way to measure engagement is through viewing hours.

“It’s easy to understand. It mirrors third parties like Nielsen in the US. It makes Netflix very easy to compare to other streaming services,” he said.

Back when Netflix was in the early stages of its business, it wasn’t in its best interest to focus on transparency, Sarandos said, because “it didn’t want to provide roadmaps to future competitors.”

“We were building a new business and we also needed room to learn,” he said.

But that lack of transparency created an “environment of mistrust around the data.”

“This is probably more information than you need. But I think it creates a better environment for the Guild, for us, for the producers, for creators,” Sarandos said.

The company said more than 60% of Netflix titles released between January and June showed up on its weekly Top 10 lists, which Netflix began publishing in November 2021.

“This is a big step forward for Netflix and our industry,” the company said in a release. “We believe the viewing information in this report — combined with our weekly Top 10 and Most Popular lists — will give creators and our industry deeper insights into our audiences, and what resonates with them.”

Netflix said the data revealed the staying power of sequels, such as the second season of Ginny & Georgia, You season 4 (440,600,000 hours) and Outer Banks season 3 (402,500,000). Yet it also said new series launched such as The Night Agent, The Diplomat, Beef, The Glory, Alpha Males, FUBAR and Fake Profile each garnered an impressive audience.

The report also showed how a variety of genres stuck with viewers. On the call, Lauren Smith, vice president of global strategy and finance, said that on average, members watched six different genres a month, and the company’s most watched titles are from more than 12 different genres.

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Netflix releases most transparent data to date about viewership