Netflix reveals what people are really watching

Netflix reveals what people are really watching

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Netflix released its first-ever “engagement report” on Tuesday, shining a light on what movies and series people are (and aren’t) watching on the streaming service.

The report, titled “What We Watched,” includes viewership data for the movies and television shows released on the streaming service between January and June 2023. Netflix said it will share new versions of the report every six months as a part of a broader move to be more transparent with the media, creators and viewers.

“This is probably more information than you need, but I think it creates a better environment for the guilds, for us, for the producers, for creators and for the press,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told reporters in a call Tuesday.

The report listed more than 18,000 titles, representing 99 percent of all content viewed on the streaming service. The company said users viewed more than 100 billion hours in the first six months of 2023, with non-English stories generating 30 percent of all viewing.

The Netflix original show “The Night Agent” topped all other programs on the service with more than 812 million viewing hours. “The Mother,” an action-thriller starring Jennifer Lopez, was the most-watched movie with 249.9 million viewing hours.

One of Netflix’s more notable shows, “Wednesday,” starring Jenny Ortega, garnered 507.7 million hours, while “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” had more than 503 million hours. The first season of the show “Suits” — a 2011 legal dramedy that went viral this past year on Netflix — had 129.1 million hours during the six-month period.

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According to the company, 60 percent of the programming released between January and June 2023 ended up on the Netflix’s Top 10 list, which is a brief data report on the platform that the company began sharing in 2021. Netflix said it’s best not to use the new report’s data to compare shows against each other since it’s possible some projects only had a day or two of viewership data before the cutoff point. Some projects are only available in certain markets, too.

“Success on Netflix comes in all shapes and sizes, and is not determined by hours viewed alone,” the company said in a press release. “We have enormously successful movies and TV shows with both lower and higher hours viewed. It’s all about whether a movie or TV show thrilled its audience.”

Netflix has long faced criticism from industry insiders, creators and the media for a lack of transparency about its viewership data. Actors and writers also raised the issue during the Hollywood strikes this year, calling on all streaming services to be more transparent about their viewership numbers so that creators could be paid fairly based on how audiences engaged with their content. Obtaining more transparency was one of the major provisions that Hollywood writers secured in their new three-year contract.

“The more transparency the better,” said Michael Jamin, a TV writer and showrunner in Los Angeles. “It allows writers to better understand the value of our work, and to be compensated for it justly. The television business model has evolved, and how we get paid needs to evolve as well.”

Sarah Pribis, an actor based in New York City, said the report wasn’t perfect but that it’s “about time” the streamers began releasing more data. “I think it will be eye-opening for people to see these viewership numbers next to linear ones,” she said. “It’s a good start, but we need to see more.”

According to a summary of the new deal between writers and the studios, the studios agreed to share “the total number of hours streamed, both domestically and internationally, of self-produced high budget streaming programs” with writers.

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