Netflix’s own hits are few and far between

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The Future. While the WGA fought hard to codify a success-based streaming residual payment, new data shows most Netflix Original titles probably don’t come close to that threshold. In other words, a minority of programs drive the majority of viewership. But it’s possible that could specifically be an Originals phenomenon and licensed titles could drive even more average viewership. With the major studios reverting back to licensing to Netflix to generate cash, that theory is about to be put to the test.

Small-screen blockbusters
Netflix — like every other streamer — hid its viewership data not because it was awash in big, broad hits, but because most of its programs are… well… niche.

  • Digital-i, a British data provider, found over 70% of Netflix Originals are viewed by less than 5% of US subscribers.
  • Conversely, fewer than 5% were seen by over 20% of subscribers — the threshold that triggers newly-won performance bonuses for WGA writers.
  • Granted, Digital-i was measuring the performance of all of Netflix’s titles — film, TV, docs, stand-up, etc. — so it’s conceivable only union-covered material has a higher viewership average.

Despite criticisms that Netflix (or most streaming movies) don’t have a cultural footprint, Digital-i discovered movies represented the biggest hits for the streamer, with the top three most-watched titles on the platform this year being the Eddie Murphy-Jonah Hill comedy You People, the Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy Murder Mystery 2, and the Jennifer Lopez-actioner The Mother — all viewed by more than 35% of subscribers.

Those are stats Netflix wants a lot more of. While Netflix still doesn’t want to commit to wider theatrical rollouts like competitors Apple and Amazon, Netflix announced it was overhauling its film strategy to put more resources into fewer films — a film every other week instead of every week — in an effort to give more TLC to the movies it makes.

And in doing so, program even bigger hits.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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