Why Netflix changed its own measurement system

Netflix, which used to shield its ratings from the public like the Mona Lisa, is changing its own audience metrics for greater transparency. (Then again, Netflix was also against ads.)

Previously, the streaming giant ranked its top 10 shows and movies based on hours watched. It also cut its most popular lists of all time to 28 days of available audience. Now, the weekly Top 10 will be ranked by “views” (hours viewed divided by runtime) and the all-time lists are extended by nine weeks, to 91 days.

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That’s a full quarter of a year, the same basis on which Netflix and other publicly traded companies report their financial results. It’s important to Netflix that the number be divisible by seven, to capture a whole number of weeks. That’s why the old method was 28 days, not 30 or 31, and why it’s now 91, not 90.

Our delayed viewing culture gives credit to those extra 63 days. It’s true, as Netflix said in a blog post on Tuesday (see below), that “many ‘Netflix shows and movies’ “grow considerably over time.” This context is valid and important, but let’s be honest: it also inflates Netflix’s numbers in a rather self-serving way.

Over the past few weeks, Netflix has begun sprinkling “views” with its regular metrics into press emails. An example from last Tuesday: “Never Have I Ever” returned for its fourth and final season with 76.21 million viewing hours. Starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, the coming-of-age series has garnered over 15 million views (76.2 million hours watched divided by 4.9 hours runtime).

The feedback has been positive from both media and creators, a Netflix insider told IndieWire. After all, the concept of “view” is much more digestible than a gigantic number of (millions of hours). (It’s not a completely different concept since Nielsen weighs points against the total number of viewers. Mainstream does not include a point rating, but it does include 3 million viewers.) Additionally, smaller numbers after division are easier on the eyes and the brain. .

It’s probably no coincidence – at least in time – that the WGA and other guilds are currently battling with studios for, among other things, more transparency from streamers – especially Netflix. It’s not necessarily more transparent, but it’s cleaner.

It’s also fairer. The old method disproportionately rewarded longer runtimes, making third-party walkthroughs much more impactful than the most culturally relevant limited series.

Semantics – and arithmetic – make the difference. “Wednesday” Season 1 is now the most-watched show of all time on Netflix, not “Stranger Things 4.” Additionally, “The Queen’s Gambit” is now fifth all-time; the limited series wasn’t even on the list before.

On the cinema side, Mark Wahlberg’s film “Spenser Confidential” and the family film “We Can Be Heroes” are now among the most popular feature films. Both newcomers have runtimes under two hours, which used to be a challenge. Read more instant changes to the most popular lists here.

No matter how you slice it, Season 1 of the South Korean series “Squid Game” is still Netflix’s biggest content. Netflix will not revise the weekly listings it has released since June 2021, a spokesperson told Us.

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Netflix summarized today’s changes in a blog post; read it below.

We’ve heard feedback that it’s hard to contextualize just providing watch hours on our Top 10 lists, so over the past few months we’ve started sharing views for a good number of our titles ( i.e. hours watched divided by total runtime).

This turned out to be a more relevant metric for many people, so starting today, while we’ll continue to show hours viewed by title, our Top 10 Lists will now be ordered by views. We will also be extending the qualifying time for our most popular lists from approximately one month (28 days) to three months (91 days) as many of our shows and movies grow significantly over time.

As we have always said, there is no perfect streaming metric. But we think that the number of views combined with the total number of hours seen is a good evolution, because it is:

  • Rooted in engagement – ​​our best measure of member satisfaction and a key driver of retention (which, in turn, drives our business);

  • Ensures that longer titles do not receive an advantage; And

  • Allows third parties to compare the relative impact of movies and series, despite their different runtimes.

Our hope is that by being consistent and transparent about what people watch, Netflix can give everyone – consumers, creators, analysts and the press – a better look at what successful streaming looks like more generally. We’ll continue to share more detailed, title-specific data with creators, and as always, we’ll continue to listen to feedback.

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