Unlike theaters and TV networks, Netflix has never disclosed audience data on a regular basis. Its opacity has inspired an entire cottage industry of companies that estimate demand for shows, and which programs lead consumers to sign up for a service. Other streaming services have followed Netflix’s lead, reporting little more than adjectives and no actual data about select titles.
While Netflix doesn’t sell ads based on viewer data, the way TV networks do, its hit shows help attract new subscribers. More viewer data may help investors judge how the service is doing in any given quarter, and may also help producers looking for leverage in negotiations with the company, which spent $11.4 billion on movies and TV shows through nine months of 2021.
“Figuring out how best to measure success in streaming is hard, and there’s no one perfect metric,” Pablo Perez De Rosso, Netflix’s VP of content strategy, planning and analysis, wrote in a blog post. “Having looked at the different options, we believe engagement as measured by hours viewed is a strong indicator of a title’s popularity, as well as overall member satisfaction, which is important for retention in subscription services.”
These lists won’t reveal viewership data for most Netflix shows. They will serve as snapshots of the biggest hits, and help market those titles to potential viewers.