Netflix counts its viewers with an even more dubious method than avant

– January 22, 2020 – Pop culture

If you watch two minutes of a series or film, you will now be considered a full-fledged viewer. This method allows Netflix to report 35% higher audiences than before.

Netflix is changing its most formal way of accounting for its audiences, as stated in its letter to shareholders dated January 21, 2020, published on January 21, 2020, with results for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Until now, the (meagre) official audience figures that the video on demand (SVOD) platform distilled in its quarterly reports were taken from an already rather curious unit of measurement: a season was considered viewed if you watched 70% of its first episode. This is obviously very little: it corresponds, for example, to 12.5% of the total of a season of eight episodes such as Elite or Sex Education.

  • To read: Netflix has a very strange way of keeping track of the audiences of its series

Henry Cavill dans The Witcher // Source : Netflix

Henry Cavill in The Witcher // Source: Netflix

Audiences increase by 35% with this method

But Netflix has decided to go further. “Since we have productions that vary greatly in length – from short episodes (15 minutes for Special) to long films (132 minutes for The Highwaymen), we believe that relying on 70% of a single episode makes less sense,” says Reed Hastings CEO of the company, in his letter to shareholders.

“From now on, in the public data it shares, the platform will count a viewer from 2 minutes of viewing of a film or series,” he continued. “In this way, short and long content are treated in the same way, and interactive content, which does not have a fixed duration, can also be counted correctly. “The multinational company precisely defines this category of viewers as “having chosen to watch, and has watched for at least 2 minutes – long enough to indicate that the choice is intentional. »

With this method, Netflix assumes that the audiences it will report will be 35% higher than before. For example, the documentary series Our Planet, which was supposed to have been seen by “33 million member households”, will now be seen by “45 million member households”, which makes a big difference.

The multinational justifies this decision by taking the example of other platforms such as YouTube and its number of views, or even, strangely enough, the “most-read list” on news sites such as the New York Times which “includes the people who just opened the article“.

  • To read: Netflix unveils its top of the most watched series and movies in France, but it doesn’t mean anything

« <a href=Marriage Story » sur Netflix // Source : Netflix’ class=’wp-image-4063′ data-lazy-sizes='(max-width: 933px) 100vw, 933px’ data-lazy-src=’’ data-lazy-srcset=’ 933w,×169.jpeg 300w,×432.jpeg 768w,×450.jpeg 800w,×392.jpeg 696w,×420.jpeg 746w’ height=’525′ src=’data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=’’%20viewBox=’0%200%20933%20525’%3E%3C/svg%3E’ width=’933’>

“Marriage Story” on Netflix // Source: Netflix

Goodbye watchers, hello starters.

This is not the first time we have heard about this “2 minutes” measure. In fact, Netflix has long had three separate accounting units to analyze the success of its productions, which the firm unveiled last October.


  • The “starters“: counted from two minutes of viewing of a film or episode of a series.
  • Watchers: counted from 70% of an episode or film.
  • Completers: those who have watched at least 90% of a film or season in a series.

For some time now, Netflix has been officially communicating to its shareholders, and the general public, with the data from the “watchers”. These are now the “starters” that we will know, which gives even less information on the actual behaviour of the platform’s subscribers than before.

At the end of December 2019, Netflix thus unveiled its “top of the series and films watched in France” and in other countries, but we already pointed out that it n’t make much sense: firstly, no figures were given, and secondly, the information was based on 2 minutes of viewing, which really doesn’t give much indication of the time actually spent watching a series. In summary, Netflix continues to lock in its audience figures, which allows it to communicate exactly how it wants to, about the productions it wants, and about the practices of its 167 million subscribers Why deprive ourselves of it?

  • Read: Netflix reaches 167 million paying subscribers but keeps an eye on Disney and Apple
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