Netflix reports its viewership numbers for the first time

Netflix said it will begin regularly reporting viewership numbers for its top movies and shows, marking a shift in strategy to release internal data.

The streaming giant — which had been notoriously tight-lipped about such data in the past — said it will report every week how many hours customers spend watching its top 10 TV shows and movies, for both English and non-English titles across its service.

The company began its new tradition with its first report Tuesday, which revealed that “Red Notice,” the action film starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, was watched 149 million hours by subscribers since it was released Friday, making it the most popular English-language movie on its platform.

Within the TV category, the most-watched English-language show was the third season of “Narcos: Mexico,” racking up 50 million hours of viewing. “Squid Game” was the most popular non-English language television show, amassing 43 million hours of viewing during the week ending November 14.

Leading man Ryan Reynolds (right) tussles with co-stars Dwayne "The Rock Johnson" and Gal Gadot in a scene from the Netflix action caper "Red Notice."
“Red Notice” was the most popular English-language title on Netflix’s platform and was watched over 149 million hours.
©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

Netflix’s decision to release more data comes in response to criticism that it isn’t transparent enough about its viewership numbers. In the past, Netflix would comment on its earnings calls which titles were the most popular based on the number of subscribers who watched at least two minutes of a movie or show. Now, the company will provide rankings based on the total number of hours a title is viewed.

A scene from Squid Game
“Squid Game” is the most popular non-English program on Netflix’s platform this week.
Netflix

“Figuring out how best to measure success in streaming is hard, and there’s no one perfect metric,” said Pablo Perez De Rosso, vice-president of content strategy. “Traditional measures like box office or share of audience, which was designed to help advertisers understand success on linear TV, aren’t relevant to most streamers, including Netflix.”

Since Netflix’s first massive hit “House of Cards” in 2013, the company has largely kept viewership data on its movies and shows under wraps. Because the streaming service does not have advertisements, it does not need to report ratings to attract brands the way traditional broadcast and TV networks do.

Netflix's top ten TV list
“Narcos” tops Netflix’s top TV list for November 8 through November 14, 2021.
Courtesy of Netflix

Although Netflix, which has over 200 million subscribers, will be providing more viewership insight, it won’t be reporting how many customers watched a particular program.

“This is an important step forward for Netflix, the creators we work with and our members,” De Rosso said. “People want to understand what success means in a streaming world, and these lists offer the clearest answer to that question in our industry.”

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