Netflix Numbers Are Worthless Without Context — and That’s Unlikely To Change

IndieWire | 4/20/2019 | Staff
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Here’s a strange thought from someone whose job is analyzing movie box office: As a journalist, I want Netflix data. As someone who has followed box office across his entire career, I’m not sure that it would be as meaningful as box-office data. And, it appears that doing so could be harmful to Netflix’s interests.

For Netflix, data means specific viewership totals for their programming as well as box-office performance — two very different issues. So here are the choices and the risks for Netflix.

Gauge - Netflix - Success - Number - Subscribers

The prime gauge of Netflix’s success is its number of paid subscribers. They provide these numbers regularly. (No choice, as a publicly traded company; these figures help investors to determine investment).

Unlike HBO and similar, Netflix can track every time a subscriber watches a program, and how much is viewed. According to Netflix, a viewing is when a member account watches at least 70 percent of one episode of a series, or 70 percent of a film — but that’s vastly different from the much cleaner box-office metrics of buy ticket/report sale. Also, it isn’t transactional; subscribers pay for the service, not for the individual program.

Netflix - Numbers - Verification - Report - Triple

So, Netflix has started to reveal numbers, with no independent verification. In its quarterly report, it announced that “Triple Frontier” was viewed 52 million times in its first month, with “The Highwaymen” on track for 40 million in a one-month period. Since they didn’t specify territories, the numbers are likely worldwide, with no breakdown for domestic.

Although their exact provenance is uncertain, those numbers are huge; according to Nielsen, 17.4 million people watched this week’s premiere of “Game of Thrones.” And this is a time when Netflix could stand to do some chest beating with Disney+ revving up, questions of Oscar eligibility are pending, and the streamer is facing the theatrical questions that will...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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