In explaining the reasons for its move, Netflix said that finding out how best to measure success in streaming was hard, and that there was no one perfect metric. It added that in its belief traditional measures like box office or share of audience, designed to help advertisers understand success on linear TV, were not relevant to most streamers.
Having looked at the different options, the company said that engagement as measured by hours viewed was a strong indicator of a title’s popularity, as well as overall member satisfaction, which it stressed was important for retention in subscription services. In addition, Netflix noted that hours viewed mirrored the way third parties measure popularity, encompasses re-watch – something it regarded as a strong sign of member joy and can be consistently measured across different companies.
The new Top10 on Netflix will be published every Tuesday based on hours viewed from Monday to Sunday the previous week for both original and licensed titles. Netflix has broken the lists down as follows: global Top 10 lists for films (English), TV (English), films (non-English) and TV (non-English), as well as rankings for over 90 countries. The website is currently available in English and Spanish, with more languages to come next year. The new weekly lists are in addition to the daily country Top 10 rows Netflix introduced in 2020, which will now also be based on hours viewed.
In its initial run for results published on 16 November 2021, the most popular English language film was Bird Box with 282 million hours streamed followed by Extraction (231 million) and the Irishman (215 million). For non-English films, the leader was Blood Red Sky (111 million hours), The Platform (108 million) and Below Zero (78 million). Bridgerton season 1 was the most popular English language TV show, generating 625 million hours followed by season three of Stranger Things (582 million). Yet these were dwarfed by Squid Game which has accumulated 1.6 billion hours of viewing. Seasons 4, 3 and 5 of Money Heist (Casa de Papel) occupied the next three slots in the non-English rankings with 619 million, 426 million and 395 million hours streamed respectively.
Acknowledging that it self-reports, Netflix has engaged EY to review its new metrics, and Netflix has assured that it will publish the independent accounting firm’s report in 2022. It also made note that observed hours viewed favoured longer series and films. Because of what it said was a difficulty in capturing the nuances of different types of entertainment with one metric, Netflix said that it would also occasionally publish speciality lists. For example, documentary features or reality shows which despite popularity may appear less prominently in these lists.
Addressing another key point regarding measurement, why it did not report the number of members that finish a show or film, said that all that viewing should be reflected in the popularity of the title regardless of whether the viewer missed the end of a single episode in a series, or all of a credits sequence, or is a viewer re-watched a scene multiple times rather than the whole film.
Commenting on the move, Netflix said: “This is an important step forward…for the creators we work with and our members. People want to understand what success means in a streaming world, and these lists offer the clearest answer to that question in our industry. Most of all, though, we hope our new weekly Top 10 on Netflix will help fans discover new stories and join new conversations.” Rapid TV News