Netflix earned a reputation for being painfully secretive about the ratings numbers of its original programs and films, but the company apparently tries to change that policy, as it promises more transparency.
Content director, Ted Sarandos, spoke about the new transparency initiative during a call for investors on Tuesday. Sarandos told investors that the company will begin disclosing "more specific and granular data and reports" to different groups soon. The producers will receive those numbers first, followed by the subscribers, then press. The goal is to be "more transparent about what people are seeing on Netflix around the world," according to Sarandos.
Netflix has already started publishing more data slowly. The company announced in December that more than 45 million accounts watched its horror movie Bird Box within the first seven days of its release. A spokesperson for the company told The Verge at the time that an account must exceed "70 percent of the total execution time (including credits)" to be considered as a hearing. The spokesperson added that "each" account "can include multiple views and viewers, but only counts once."
Neither Sarandos nor CEO Reed Hastings expanded the way in which Netflix data is collected or what kind of information would be disclosed. But Hastings acknowledged that the company will tend to be more transparent "quarter by quarter."
"The real metric is, can we keep our members happy and grow that subscriber base as we did strongly in the first quarter?" Added Hastings.
Deciding to be more transparent would be a considerable move for Netflix. The company has refused several times in the past to open up to the viewing habits of its members. That led analysts and investors to question how many people were watching Friends since Netflix executives felt justified in paying $ 100 million for the 2019 broadcast rights to the program. Unlike traditional cable companies, whose numbers are published through Nielsen due to the demands of advertisers, Netflix never had to release their numbers. But the company has faced considerable criticism for combining the secrecy of its ratings with occasional claims of self-aggrandizement about how strong those ratings are; for example, in 2015, when he claimed his series Narcos had a larger audience than Game of Thrones .
"I would consider it as if they were less financial metrics than cultural metrics," Sarandos said during a previous earnings call in January. "I think it's important that artists understand, that the audience also understands the scope of their work, so that's why you'll see us increasing a little bit more, giving, sharing a bit more of that information."
Netflix's launch of its own numbers also helps the company navigate the current Nielsen guessing game system. As previously reported Los Angeles Times :
Nielsen and other research firms have developed an industry to estimate the audience and trends of Netflix through their own patented methods, which often depend on sampling. These firms then sell their reports to studios, networks and agencies.
The Netflix executive team has often discounted these numbers, but without providing contradictory data. It is not yet clear if the company will release the audience data of all its original series and films, or just a few. During the most recent call from investors, Netflix released numbers for only a handful of titles, including Triple Frontier (52 million accounts), The Umbrella Academy (45 million accounts) ), and The Highwaymen (will exceed 40 million accounts).
Netflix is also testing a new "Top 10" feature that will showcase the 10 most popular television series and movies that Netflix users see. Although it is not exact data, it is a way that other Netflix subscribers can see what the rest of the country (or the world) is seeing. Netflix is testing the function in the UK first, and will use the data collected from the beta test to see if it is worth extending it to other countries.