Netflix Establishes New Metric for Popularity and Viewer Success Effective Immediately

netflix audience figures metric
Netflix establishes metric for streaming success | © Photo: Adobe Stock

Until now, it was common practice for the providers of the major streaming platforms not to communicate audience figures for their series and films. Now Netflix is forging ahead. The media company is now publishing a new metric for the popularity of content published on the platform: total hours.

Why communicate successes and failures publicly if you don’t live off advertising? Until now, this was the maxim of Netflix and Co. After all, the streaming providers did not finance themselves by selling advertising space. As for which content has scored with Netflix subscribers so far, only a few insiders knew.

The iron law was: Why provide the competition with information on audience figures if you don’t have to? Only at Squid Game, through an indiscretion… unintentionally leaked some figures to the trade press – and promptly fired the employees responsible.

Whether it was the unintentional incident with the Korean series, or if it had been planned for a while, the secrecy is history as of now. Netflix publishes official information about the success of its own films and series on a specially created website.

Three aspects in particular are of interest here:

Measure of popularity = total number of hours

What is measured is not the number of viewers or, as is usual in television, an audience share in the market as a quota. Also, as is often the case in the digital economy, the number of clicks made (film start) or the first fifteen seconds do not play a role in the measurement of streaming offers.

How much time the audience spends watching is a strong indicator of popularity.
Pablo Perez De Rosso

Vice President Netflix

Netflix bases its metrics on a standard that has been gaining importance in video content marketing for years: what matters is how many minutes and hours subscribers have actually watched a Netflix series or movie on the streamer. What counts – unlike in the classic TV business – is the total number of hours people have spent watching.

With the new metric, Netflix is in a way following the idea known in marketing as View Through Rate, or VTR for short. Only the effectively spent lifetime that the viewer invests in the consumption of the respective content counts. Those who watch a series multiple times or recommend it to others with success are correctly driving the number up.

So unlike VTR, Netflix works with absolute numbers. At the same time, the Group emphasizes that it sees this type of performance measurement as a contemporary way to determine the popularity of a series in a transparent manner and thus also to draw conclusions about the satisfaction of existing subscribers.

Top 10 ranking

The success measurement is prepared and published on the Internet on the basis of the new metric. This under Netflix Top 10 in the form of a free-to-view leaderboard.

This is broken down as follows

  • global top 10 lists for movies (original language English)
  • other broadcasts (original language English)
  • Movies (original language not English)
  • other broadcasts (original language not English)

More lists are to follow.

This ranking of the most successful content can be sorted based on total hours by market currently for 90 countries as of the end of June 2021. A German language version is also to follow next year.

viewership netflix top 10
Screenshot Website Top 10 from Netflix

Productions that do not make it into one of the first ten places are not callable. The very big midfield and flops are kept quiet. While Netflix’s communication of numbers is an unexpected and equally big step, there is still limited transparency and meaningfulness to the rankings.

Netflix: The Winner Takes It All?

The publication of a top 10 list attracts a streaming provider with around 215 million subscribers has an unpleasant side effect. Many people will also see the ranking as a recommendation. Driven by press and users, productions like Red Notice that make it onto the rankings get a huge amount of extra publicity – which in turn translates into more viewers and therefore more hours.

Put another way: There is a certain danger that this kind of publication of performance measurement feeds on itself, so to speak. Successes become even greater, while places 11-50 hardly get a chance to advance to the top ranks. It doesn’t have to do with the metric, but a lot to do with the way they are processed.

The start of the publication of figures on the success of individual media content is a milestone in the industry of streaming providers. As Netflix initiates this paradigm shift, total hours consumed as a measure of viewer success stands a good chance of establishing itself as the new standard for measuring moving image online content.

This is helped by the fact that Netflix clearly wants to set an example in terms of transparency: methodologies and metrics are now controlled by an independent auditing firm. Their report on this will be published for the first time next year.

Sources: Variety, Entertainment Weekly; As of October 20, 2021; Quote: 11/16-21,

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

Carlo P. Olsson
About Carlo P. Olsson 139 Articles
Carlo P. Olsson begleitet die Herstellung von Filmen, Videos und TV-Serien im Auftrag von Unternehmen, Agenturen und Produktionsfirmen. In seiner Freizeit spielt er Eishockey und beschäftigt sich mit barocker Klangdramatik.

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