Netflix and Spill: Streaming Giant Shares Its Secrets In All New Report

Netflix report 2023

Since the dawn of time, humanity has been wondering what shows are actually the most popular on Netflix — beyond their Top 10 on the homepage. Historically, Netflix has been rather cagey about releasing this data, which Netflix’s Co-CEO, Ted Sarandos says was a strategic move.

“In the earliest days, it really wasn’t in our interest to be that transparent, because we were building a new business and we needed room to learn,” Sarandos said in a press conference call. “And by not doing public data, there was something creators liked a lot about it too, which is it took a lot of pressure off the overnight ratings model or the weekend box office model.”

Yet, on that very same call, Sarandos noted that these days are now over. What’s more, Netflix put its money where its mouth is. 

On December 13, Netflix released its 2023 What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report. This report details how many hours specific titles have been streamed. It also details the release date of these titles and if they were released in the US or globally. 

For a title to be included in this report, it must have been streamed for over 50,000 hours. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. At the bottom of Netflix’s report, it lists several international titles that weren’t released everywhere around the globe. These titles were included because Netflix was impressed with the niche audiences that they garnered.  

So, what can we glean from this report? And is there anything that this report is not telling us? Here’s everything that we know.

The Netflix Report: 2023’s Big Winners

According to the Netflix report, many of its original shows performed well. In fact, the top five performing shows of the year were all Netflix originals. They were:

  • The Night Agent: Season 1 812,100,000 hours
  • Ginny & Georgia: Season 2 665,100,000 hours
  • The Glory: Season 1 622,800,000 hours
  • Wednesday: Season 1 507,700,000 hours 
  • Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story 503,000,000 hours

From Ted Sarandos’ perspective, the sheer volume of hours that these shows were streamed is a win. Additionally, he believes that they demonstrate Netflix knows what its audience wants.

“I do think this is a good reflection of the success of our shows,” Sarandos said. “We really do run the business trying to please our members. And we think the best way to judge that is: Do the movies and shows that we produce or licence thrill those members in such a way that they stay engaged?

“Hardly anybody turns off things that they love, and hardly anyone watches things that they hate when it’s so easy to switch to something else. So we think this is the most accurate reflection of that.”

The Netflix Report: What’s Missing

Now, while Netflix’s report is rather exhaustive, it is also missing some key bits of information. For instance, this report doesn’t note if a lot of people binged an entire show or if a lot of people just watched the first few eps of a series. What’s more, this report doesn’t tell us if Netflix’s audience play such shows in the background or in hidden tabs.

Lastly, some people criticised Netflix for not allowing a third-party to compile this data. However, Ted Sarandos has hit back at this critique. 

“This is our data, and it is our accurate data,” Sarandos said. “It’s the data that we use to run the business that we’re sharing with you. Us compiling the data to provide to a third party to provide it to you seems like a lot of steps for something that’s already a pretty heavy lift.”

The Netflix Report: A Response to the 2023 Strikes?

In 2023, Netflix’s streaming numbers were a major sticking point of both the Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild strikes. Both unions wanted more transparency from the streaming giant, as it gives the writers and actors more power to negotiate if they know their show is performing well. 

According to Ted Sarandos, Netflix didn’t release this report just to make the guilds happy. Yet, he does concede that this info will improve such relationships.

“This is probably more information than you need,” Sarandos said, “but I think it creates a better environment for the guilds, for us, for the producers, for creators, and for the press.”

If you want to review Netflix’s 2023 report in your own time, click the link here.

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