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Netflix demystifies the data (a little)

Bird Box // courtesy of Netflix

Netflix demystifies the data (a little)


The Future. At the Code Conference, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos shared two lists revealing which films and shows were the most popular on the service in their first month of release. The two lists, however, may create a competing narrative of what titles are the most hyped versus what titles audiences actually finished. Either way, as the creative community tries to figure out how to get paid on the backend on streaming projects, the metric that matters most may be a key deciding factor.

Digit duel
Netflix is trying on some transparency.

First up, the top five titles that were the most popular by unique accounts that watched at least two minutes:

  • Films: ExtractionBird BoxSpenser Confidential6 Underground, and Murder Mystery.
  • Shows: BridgertonLupin (Part 1), The Witcher (S1), Sex/LifeStranger Things 3.

Second, the top five titles that were the most popular by time spent watching:

  • Films: Bird BoxExtractionThe IrishmanThe Kissing Booth 2, and 6 Underground.
  • Shows: BridgertonMoney Heist (Part 4), Stranger Things 3The Witcher (S1), and 13 Reasons Why (S2).

You can see the number of accounts/how many hours watched, and the full top-ten list in each category here.

Stay engaged

The data teases at some valuable insights:

  • A lot of people starting a movie doesn’t necessarily mean they finish it.
  • A show can be discovered by its audience after a month has passed, leading to very popular subsequent seasons.
  • Netflix Originals are far more popular than licensed shows (within the first month of appearing on the service).

But since these lists only account for the first 28 days of release, Netflix may be signaling that what matters most on the platform is what drives immediate engagement… instead of touting titles that take their time to find a passionate audience.