BY RICK PORTER | HollywoodReporter.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Entertainment
The on-screen list of top titles will be supplemented by a website showing the leading titles in a host of territories.
In its third quarter earnings, Netflix announced it would change how it reports viewing metrics. The public facing aspect of that switch goes into effect Tuesday.
The streamer says it’s changing the way it reports its in-app top 10 lists, and it will supplement those local lists with a website showing top titles in more than 90 countries. The rankings will now be based on the total number of hours viewed for a given title, rather than Netflix’s previous standard of a two-minute sample.
The change is a move toward some data transparency at Netflix, although it — along with every other streaming provider — also collects a lot of information that remains at the level of state secret. That includes how many users complete a show or film, whether a title drives subscriptions or retention of existing users and what Netflix terms “efficiency,” a measure of cost vs. the number of people who watched a given title. Total viewing time is, however, a more digestible metric than its former two-minute “view” standard and could give producers and talent a bit of insight into how the projects they make for Netflix perform — at least relative to other titles on the platform.
Netflix also says it’s hiring an accounting firm, EY, to review its data metrics and will publish the firm’s report sometime next year.
As has been the case previously, Netflix’s on-screen top 10 list will update daily. The new website will post weekly top 10s on Tuesday, reflecting total hours watched for the previous week. It will feature four global top 10 charts — English language and non-English language series and English language and non-English language films — and top 10s for each country. The global lists will feature hours viewed for each title for the past week, but the ones for each country will just be rankings without a watch time figure.
“Having looked at the different options, we believe engagement as measured by hours viewed is a strong indicator of a title’s popularity, as well as overall member satisfaction, which is important for retention in subscription services,” writes Pablo Perez De Rosso, vp content strategy, planning and analysis for Netflix, in a blog post announcing the change. “In addition, hours viewed mirrors the way third parties measure popularity, encompasses rewatch … and can be consistently measured across different companies.”
Netflix’s hours viewed metric is similar to Nielsen’s weekly streaming top 10s, which show the most watched programming (in terms of minutes viewed rather than hours) among original and acquired series and all movie titles across five outlets (Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video).
The first weekly top 10, for Nov. 8-14, shows that feature film Red Noticehad a big week, racking up almost 149 million hours of viewing time worldwide. That’s not far outside the top 10 Netflix movies of all time: The current 10th place film is Murder Mystery at 170 million hours over its first 28 days. Season three of Narcos: Mexico was the most popular series globally (50.29 million hours), edging Squid Game (42.79 million).
As for why Netflix doesn’t report on completion rates for its series and films, De Rosso writes, “We believe that whether you miss the end of one episode in a 10 hour series (a crying baby or Netflix and chill), or you don’t wait for the easter egg in the credits sequence, or you rewatch one scene multiple times rather than the whole film, all that viewing should be reflected in the popularity of the title.”
The top 10 website will also feature the most popular movies and series (broken down by season) of all time on Netflix — a list currently headed by Squid Game, which the company says racked up 1.6 billion hours of viewing worldwide in its first four weeks. That’s more than double the second most popular series, Bridgerton (625 million hours).
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