Netflix Opens Up: Viewership Data Unveiled After Years of Secrecy

Netflix has long been "notorious" for its lack of transparency regarding the popularity of its shows and movies

by Sededin Dedovic
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Netflix Opens Up: Viewership Data Unveiled After Years of Secrecy
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Netflix finally pulled back the veil on its closely guarded viewership data, releasing its first "What We Watched" report on Tuesday. The report marks a significant shift for the streaming giant, which has long been criticized for its lack of transparency regarding the popularity of its shows and movies.

The report, which will be updated every six months, ranks nearly all of Netflix's content by hours watched over the last six months. This unprecedented level of transparency comes after years of speculation and debate within the creative community.

Co-CEO Ted Sarandos admitted that Netflix's previous reluctance to disclose viewership information had created mistrust among creators. Sarandos explained that Netflix kept its data private during its early years in order to experiment without giving away valuable information to potential competitors.

However, with nearly 250 million global subscribers, Netflix is now in a position of strength and confidence, allowing it to be more open with its ratings. "This is real data that we use to run our business," Sarandos said.

"I'm the co-CEO of a public company, so sharing bad information has consequences."

Hollywood strike affects Netflix

The push for transparency coincided with recent strikes by Hollywood actors and writers, who demanded to be compensated based on how audiences engage with their content.

This requirement, along with the launch of Netflix's ad-supported tier, which requires more detailed viewership data for advertisers, eventually led to the creation of the "What We Watched" report. Sarandos believes that this report will be beneficial for all involved, including unions, producers, creators and the press.

"This is probably more information than you need, but I think it creates a better environment for guilds, for us, for producers, for creators, and for the press," Sarandos said. The first season of "Night Agent," a Netflix original action thriller, was the service's most-watched series in the past six months, garnering 812 million hours of viewing.

"The Mother," starring Jennifer Lopez, was the streaming service's top movie. Between January and June, 55% of Netflix viewing came from original movies and series, and 45% from licensed titles, Sarandos said. Netflix disclosed viewership information for more than 18,000 titles, accounting for 99% of total viewing, with all titles watched for more than 50,000 hours.

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