Metric analysis

Why Netflix chose its new viewing metric – TBI Vision

Squid game

Netflix recently revealed a slew of new data reflecting its most watched shows using a new metric for total hours watched. Omdia’s Matthew Evenson explains why the streamer took the step and reveals what we can learn.

In its report for the third quarter of 2021, Netflix revealed that the Korean series Squid game had been watched by 142 million member households in the first four weeks since its release.

[Click to expand]

This measure of households counted any account who watched at least two minutes of a Netflix original movie or series in the first 28 days after its release.

It has been used by the streamer since early 2020 to demonstrate the success of its key releases to its shareholders and the industry as a whole.

However, Netflix has replaced this metric with a total of 28 days of viewing hours for a title, which it says is more in line with viewing metrics by external services and will better account for replaying of titles.

[Click to expand]

The streamer has released numbers for the Top 10 Original Series and Movies based on their previous and new metrics.

There is some overlap in the two sets of tables, and with the numbers Netflix has released in recent years, which can be manipulated to obtain additional information on which Netflix titles its subscribers have most engaged with.

Insights and takeaways

By dividing the hours of watching a title by the number of accounts that viewed it, we get the average time spent watching the title per account. Dividing that number by the total running time of the title (as listed on the Netflix platform), you get an average number of complete views of a title per account.

Many titles have an average number of full views per account greater than one, but that does not indicate that everyone has viewed the content more than once. This number can exceed one because many Netflix accounts are used by several people (either in the same household or otherwise), who will have watched the title at different times. There will also be people who have chosen to review titles that they particularly liked or sections of them.

Among the films, Bird box gets the most number of average full watches per account. The kissing booth 2 and Irish recorded similar numbers under both Netflix metrics. However, Irish recorded a lower average number of complete watches per account due to its nearly 3.5 hour battery life, compared to The kissing booth 22.2 hour run time (2 hours and 12 minutes).

La Casa del Papel

Unsurprisingly, subsequent seasons score higher than the series’ first seasons, as viewers increasingly commit to watching all episodes of a series as they progress.

Additionally, viewers are more likely to start watching new seasons of returning shows closer to their release, when they may not start watching a new series until it is recommended to them, either by the Netflix platform, either by a friend or family member.

As a result, new series are more likely to occur outside of the 28-day period covered by Netflix’s metrics than it is to watch returning series.

Metric transparency and comparisons

The significant headline reexamination evident from the analysis supports Netflix’s decision to switch to the new metric and will ensure that it can account for the full extent of its success going forward.

Speaking at the Code conference in September 2021, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos provided an overview of the new viewing hours metric and said the company was “trying to be more transparent with the market and with talent and everyone ”.

However, choosing to ditch the metric he’s been using for nearly two years means that it will be impossible to gauge the success of future Netflix titles compared to their old titles.


Both measures also exclude, by design, viewing of older third-party series and films, which accounts for a large portion of the viewing time spent on the platform. As such, it’s hard to argue that Netflix has become more transparent; instead, it’s just slightly more transparent in a different way.

Of course, Netflix has no obligation to self-report viewing data, so it’s no surprise that it has chosen a method that allows it to highlight its greatest hits while maintaining control over. what to declare.

Additionally, Netflix’s reports are much better than most of its streaming competitors, who often make claims defending the success of certain titles with no actual data to back the claim.

In July 2021, Apple announced that the first episode of Ted lassoThe second season of drew the largest audiences of all Apple TV + shows, but did not come up with any real numbers.

In March 2021, Disney announced that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered in the most-viewed Disney + series in its first weekend, joining WandaVision and season two of The Mandalorian in the top three.

Ted lasso

Not only does HBO Max fail to report its own audience figures, it also does not participate in Nielsen’s ranking of minutes watched of original streaming titles, which is based solely on US consumer TV viewing and covers Netflix. , Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV +, Disney +, and Hulu.

Despite the early success of subscriber acquisition, services such as Disney +, HBO Max, and Paramount + have yet to establish a truly global presence on the same scale as Netflix. As such, many of these newer services have little advantage in releasing total viewing data that would only lead to unfavorable comparisons with Netflix.

Figures such as Bridgerton’s 625 million hours of viewing is almost too much to really understand: 625 million hours equals just under 71,300 years. However, numbers like this also require little to no context to understand: 625 million hours of viewing is a lot, and that’s all Netflix wants you to understand.

Matthew Evenson is Media Analyst for Research and Entertainment at Omdia, which, like TBI, is part of Informa. For more information, click on here.