Netflix to Upend Viewership Data, Focusing on Time Spent Streaming

With a record 142 million households streaming original series “Squid Game,” and more than 214 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix is leveraging its market position with plans to disclose more viewership data outside quarterly fiscal reports.

The once-shy data company is now using its take on viewership to drive brand awareness and content popularity. While some observers may scoff at Netflix recording a viewer after 120 seconds of streaming, Netflix contends the time frame underscores its move toward tracking hours — not subs viewing — its original programs.

Later in the year, Netflix will shift to reporting on hours viewed for original titles rather than the number of subscriber accounts that choose to watch them.

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“We think engagement as measured by hours viewed is a slightly better indicator of the overall success of our titles and member satisfaction,” co-CEOs Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos and CFO Spencer Neumann wrote in a Oct. 19 shareholder letter. “It also matches how outside services measure TV viewing and gives proper credit to re-watching. In addition, we will start to release title metrics more regularly outside of our earnings report so our members and the industry can better measure success in the streaming world.”

In the meantime, Netflix said action movie Sweet Girl, starring Jason Momoa (68 million households watched in the first four weeks); Kissing Booth 3 (59 million), the last installment in the rom-com trilogy; the animated family film Vivo (46 million); and Blood Red Sky, a German-language action horror movie (53 million) resonated among Netflix subs in the quarter. Season five of “La Casa de Papel” (aka “Money Heist”) and season three of “Sex Education” generated audiences of 69 million and 55 million households in their first four weeks, respectively.

Netflix expects new limited series “Maid,” which launched Oct. 1 just after the end of Q3, to score with subscribers. The streamer expects the story about a woman living on the poverty line, by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Molly Smith Metzler, to reach 67 million households during its first four weeks.

“While the goal of our local content executives is always to create locally authentic stories that will resonate in their country (like ‘The Chestnut Man,’ which we expect will be streamed by about two thirds of its Danish subs, Netflix’s main goal to be a global, direct-to-consumer service, which enables creators to reach broader audiences — and gives our members an even greater choice of stories to enjoy,” Hastings, Sarandos and Neumann wrote.