Producing Various and Sundry

Now Playing: Detailed Public Viewership Stats for Netflix

I still should work on a wrap-up post regarding last year’s Hollywood Strikes, but one of the outcomes the unions were able to negotiate was visibility about the success of shows on streaming services.

In what definitely feels like an effort to guide that narrative, Netflix released a heretofore unprecedented amount of data publicly in December regarding how many people watched what on their service.

You can get a summary, watch a half hour press briefing, and download the whole report from their website.

The half-hour press briefing is very informative, as Netflix executives give answers that are both crafted, but also candid. For example, the notion raised above that the strikes may have had a role in prompting this transparency is dismissed as a driving factor and this is presented as a natural evolution of their growing transparency as the “Top 10” movies and TV shows are frequently cited. At the same time, when asked about having this information made available more frequently and with country-by-country breakdowns, Netflix essentially said, “No, that’s a lot of work and would give information to our competitors we don’t want to provide if we don’t have to. And we don’t have to.”

Of course, Netflix has had access to all this information for ages, something they pointed out a couple times on the call, they’re just making it more publicly available. In fact, despite their protestations that country-by-country data would be a lot of work, I’m sure there are internal metrics that drive decisions on whether to license or greenlight content. I mean, they’ve had over 76,000 micro-genres and have been data analyzing the bejeezus out of that framework for at least 10 years as documented in this old article for The Atlantic. Still, the information we have, even if it’s only to be released twice a year versus monthly or quarterly as one journalist asked, is very illuminating.

In fact, it would be great to be able to cross-reference the data with the Top 10 rankings, which I’m sure some group is tracking. Add that to the genres and micro-genre descriptors (“exciting, epic, etc.”) associated with titles, and the data could be truly useful to producers… the value of this data for creators was one of the reasons cited for releasing the information.

So, I’ll be excited to see what the July-December 2023 data turns out to be. I’m hoping it’ll be sooner than June when we get it, but regardless, expect another post when that happens.

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