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Netflix reveals how many accounts are actually watching its top titles

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A rare look at Netflix’s viewing data

Asa Mathat

During this year’s Code conference, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos shared a significant haul of data about some of the streaming giant’s top titles — a rare move for a company that traditionally holds numbers close to the chest.

In one slide, shared while Sarandos was speaking on the Code stage with Kara Swisher, Netflix shared numbers about how many accounts viewed its top 10 films and series based on the number of accounts that watched at least two minutes of the title during the first 28 days it was on Netflix.

The first season of Bridgerton led its top series list with 82 million accounts having viewed the title, followed by part one of Lupin and The Witcher, with 76 million accounts having watched each. Extraction led its top films list with 99 million accounts, followed by Bird Box with 89 million accounts and Spenser Confidential with 85 million.

Image: Code 2021

A second slide ranked Netflix’s top 10 films and series based on their total viewed hours during their first 28 days on the service. Bridgerton still topped its series list with a whopping 625 million hours viewed. The fourth installment of Money Heist followed with 619 million, followed by the third season of Stranger Things with 582 million hours of viewing. Bird Box led its list for most popular films based on the metric, with 282 million hours viewed. Extraction swooped into second place with 231 million hours viewed, while The Irishman took third with 215 million viewing hours.

“We’re trying to be more transparent with the market and talent and everybody,” Sarandos said. “It’s a big black box for everybody.”

Image: Code 2021

The decision to share the figure comes at a key moment for creatives and talent in streaming. Services across the board have traditionally offered limited information about how titles perform on their platforms, an issue that’s become a point of frustration in a rapidly changing entertainment space that’s seen even highly anticipated titles meant for theaters instead head straight to streaming services — or debut as hybrid releases.

But the numbers also show that there are many ways to define a “hit.” Netflix’s data was tracked by total hours of viewing and the length of time viewers spent watching a title during its first month on the service. Talent and production companies, however, might be more interested in the number of times a title was viewed start to finish, or how many total people — not just accounts — are watching their shows. Ultimately, without a unified standard among services for what those metrics for success look like, streamers are still very much playing by their own individual rules.