When Netflix entered the age of video streaming, it helped eliminate traditional TV ratings. Now, the company says it wants to bring it back, sort of: The streaming giant will start publishing lists of its most popular TV shows and movies, which will be updated weekly.
Netflix data will appear by itself websiteIt will present multiple lists of the top 10 lists that categorize titles according to the number of hours the company’s subscribers have spent watching them. The company will have global ratings for TV shows and movies, as well as top 10 lists for 90 different countries. Netflix also says it will bring in accounting firm Ernst & Young to review its numbers, and will publish a report from that company next year.
This will have almost no effect on the way you watch Netflix – unless you’re tracking data about the way other people watch Netflix. And to be fair, some people.
Here’s a sample of what Netflix ratings would look like – these charts rank Netflix global viewing for the second week of November, and include things that Netflix owns as well as things that it licenses from other companies:
A broadcaster that publishes their viewing data on a regular basis is unlike the old world of TV Nielsen Regularly track viewing consumption for all TV networks and make this data widely available.
But we don’t live in this world anymore. Instead, video viewing is increasingly fragmented into different streaming services owned by different companies, which carefully select audience data to share when they think they have something to show off.
Netflix is no different from its competitors in this respect: they publish these new numbers because they think they reflect well on Netflix.
And while these numbers might be interesting to you, anyone who watches Netflix, the numbers are aimed at a professional audience. That includes investors, who want to see if the billions of dollars Netflix spends on content is being funneled into Things People Watch (note that two of the top 10 lists above are dominated by things Netflix made rather than rented). It also means Hollywood talent, who want to be assured that a lot of people are watching the things they make for Netflix.
The numbers also present an unspoken challenge to competing streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, and Peacock: We dare to publish your numbers using the same methodology because we bet they are much smaller than ours. It’s also worth noting that the main audience for traditional TV rating numbers – advertisers who wanted to know where to spend their money – is not important here, because Netflix doesn’t show ads.
Netflix used to keep all of its viewing data to itself, and was concerned at first when strangers tried to measure shows themselves. But two years ago, it started releasing some of its numbers selectively and periodically – He was always satisfied with the company.
The numbers were also met with ridicule from competitors and critics. This is partly due to the lack of real transparency in the reporting, and partly due to Netflix’s strange and shifting definition of what a “show.” Initially, Netflix said that viewing occurs if someone watches 70 percent of a TV show; The company then reviewed it and said that anyone who watched a show for at least two minutes counts as a viewer.
Now, Netflix simply keeps track of the amount of time its viewers spend, in aggregate, on a show or movie. This means, in theory, that two people are watching red notice, the lousy but popular action movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, would count as one person watching the movie twice.
Let’s say Netflix makes a file red notice sequel. (Pro: The movie, said to have a budget of $200 million, is supposed to be Netflix’s attempt to make its own action franchise; con: looks like it was made for piece of ground Less than $200 million.) But with the new numbers released by Netflix, you don’t have to rely on a bragging that doesn’t have context like this to see if it’s a good idea:
On the other hand, a consumer’s acquisition of behind-the-scenes information about the entertainment he or she is consuming does not necessarily lead to a better experience. We used to watch TV shows and movies with almost no idea how many other people were watching, and that was fine. Feel free to ignore all of this.