Netflix just opened the floodgates with its first-ever biannual report revealing viewership data

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



No, you’re not the only person spending too much time on Netflix. The average Netflix user spent 16 days streaming content from January to June this year, according to new data released by the streaming service. 

After two years of consumers and the press relying on Netflix’s Top 10 lists and Nielsen data to determine Netflix’s most watched content, the company just opened the floodgates to a wealth of information that will give more insight into how viewers use the streaming service. On Tuesday, it dropped a dataset of 18,000 shows and movies (which make up 99% of its catalog), listing how many hours of viewership they each amassed in the first six months of 2023. And it plans to continue releasing this information every six months. 

Ginny & Georgia was one of the top-performing series during the January to June period, with nearly 1 billion hours watched, the equivalent of 110,410 years. Other top performers were The Night Agent and Suits, with a respective 93,000 and 68,000 years’ worth of hours viewed. 

“This is the actual data we use to run the business,” co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in a press briefing on Tuesday. Altogether, Netflix’s 238.4 million subscribers (as of June 30) spent nearly 100 billion hours watching Netflix over the six-month period. 

Throughout Netflix’s existence, “the one constant is that people are asking for more viewing information,” Sarandos said. By not providing it, the company took pressure off creators to produce breakout hits, but it also unintentionally built an atmosphere of mistrust that the company is now looking to repair, he said. The announcement follows months of negotiations with labor unions representing Hollywood writers and actors, in which the unions demanded greater transparency from studios. 

Netflix is publishing the raw data in the name of such transparency, which “creates a better environment for the [writers’ and actors’] guilds, for us, for the producers, and for the press,” according to Sarandos. While advertisers might find this data useful in making decisions on how to spend their budgets, Netflix will continue to use third-party data to determine the cost of ads. 

But the data, while informative, doesn’t give a total picture of the company. Since it has set six-month parameters, it isn’t an objective gauge of popularity. Wednesday, for example, premiered in November, while the hours-viewed metric begins in January. The show ranks lower than season two of Ginny & Georgia, which launched in early January and benefits from its early watchers being included in the metric. Netflix also has no plans to break down the data into month-by-month or country-level lists, Sarandos said, because that would offer intelligence to its competitors. 

Other streaming services have largely followed Netflix’s example in guarding title-level viewership data, so Netflix’s move could lead others to follow suit. “It will be up to them,” Sarandos said, adding that competitors are in a different phase of the streaming business and that 10 years ago, Netflix thought differently about sharing data as well.

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