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Netflix Finally Offers Self-Reported Viewing Data

by Naveen Agarwal

In a market hungry for concrete streaming data, we’ve finally seen Netflix move to offer self-reported data through weekly Top 10 lists of both series and films for its English and non-English properties. This is the first significant attempt we’ve seen to breach the streaming data gap from the companies themselves, so it’s an exciting development all around. We asked entertainment attorney Brandon Blake for further information.

Total Viewing Time

Significantly, the charts will report total viewing time, rather than the often-ridiculed ‘at least two minutes of watch time’ view counter Netflix has used to date. Stats will be reported not only for Netflix Originals but also their licensed content. It will cover the Monday-Sunday from the previous week. Lists will be published every Tuesday. In addition to these four key lists, we will also see weekly rankings of top titles over the entirety of the Netflix base. Occasional one-off viewing data stats have also been promised. We will also receive a 2022 viewing report, alongside ‘all-time top’ lists displaying the views during a title’s first 28 days.

Who will be managing this data? Independent accounting firm EY has the final audit on the data. It’s a massive step forward for a streamer that’s been highly criticized for near-useless statistical reporting and accusations of lack of transparency over its years of successful programming. In particular, many will welcome the fall of the ‘two-minute view’ statistic.

A Market Leader

Nevertheless, Netflix has always given us more numbers than nearly any other streamer. Especially over the fast 2-year streaming boom, we’ve seen nearly no concrete data reported from any service. Instead, the focus has been on random and contextless achievements, like well-viewed originals or best performers. With Nielsen under siege regarding streaming as it adapts to the digital era, it’s left other interested parties, including advertisers and investors, mostly in the dark. While we’ve seen some other outside statistical analysis firms offer data, it’s only ever been little bits of the whole picture. In fact, we’ve only just seen WarnerMedia claim the marketplace is too hectic to report on at all!

At the current moment, Netflix has strong global participation everywhere but China, one of the most dominant global streaming players. In a landscape where newly-streaming tech giants like Amazon and Apple still want to hold their hoarded data close to their chests unless the law compels them to share, it’s a remarkable move towards greater transparency.

Why total view time? We have to agree with Netflix that it’s a strong indicator of the reach and popularity of a title. It’s an imperfect metric, for sure, but what isn’t in the newer streaming market? It’s relatively consistent to measure across markets and does include rewatch value. While there’s plenty to criticize, not least that it favors longer content rather unfairly, at least it’s a benchmark of sorts in a market reluctant to provide anything at all.

What’s in it for Netflix? This willingness to move towards greater transparency when no rival is will doubtless attract advertisers hungry for some performance indicators as well as bolster their ‘global cross-pollination’ narrative. For now, that could be a major drawcard in a crowded market. The Blake & Wang P.A team will keep you up-to-date on further developments.

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