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Netflix unveils new system to measure popularity of its content

Netflix has come up with a new mechanism to measure the popularity of its content by launching a website top10.netflix.com. The streamer has started ranking its titles by the total number of hours viewed. The system followed until now was based on the number of subscribers who watched a minimum of two minutes, which, according to critics, was too inadequate to the popularity of the titles streamed.

Netflix will now onwards release viewership data every week. Such data used to be publicized during its quarterly earnings calls. The streaming platform has engaged independent accounting firm Ernst and Young to review its viewing metrics; it will publish its report next year.

The lists are ranked by hours viewed per title, i.e. the total number of hours members spent watching a season of a series or film (including the three times you watched that scene in Sex Life).  

“We will publish our new weekly “Top 10 on Netflix” every Tuesday based on hours viewed from Monday to Sunday the previous week for both original and licensed titles. We’ve broken the lists down as follows: global Top 10 lists for Films (English), TV (English), Films (non-English) and TV (non-English), as well as rankings for over 90 countries. The website is currently available in English and Spanish, with more languages to come next year,” wrote Pablo Perez De Rosso, VP, Content Strategy, Planning & Analysis, at Netflix.  

These weekly lists are in addition to the daily country Top 10 rows introduced by Netflix last year, which will now also be based on hours viewed. So whether you’re searching for Top 10 on Netflix or browsing directly on Netflix, it’s incredibly easy to see what other people are watching.

Pablo Perez De Rosso further said: “We also know fans love to track our most popular films and shows of all time. So we will also update our overall lists, which we first published last month, as new titles become mega hits. These lists are based on the total hours viewed in a title’s first 28 days on Netflix.”

According to Pablo Perez, it is difficult to measure success in streaming, and there’s no one perfect metric. “Traditional measures like box office or share of audience (which was designed to help advertisers understand success on linear TV) aren’t relevant to most streamers, including Netflix. Having looked at the different options, we believe engagement as measured by hours viewed is a strong indicator of a title’s popularity, as well as overall member satisfaction, which is important for retention in subscription services. In addition, hours viewed mirrors the way third parties measure popularity, encompasses rewatch (a strong sign of member joy) and can be consistently measured across different companies,” he added.

Netflix will publish four weekly global Top 10 lists: Films (English), TV (English), Films (Non-English), and TV (Non-English). For each list, we show hours viewed that week for each title.

Each season of a series is measured separately, so you might see Seasons 2 and 3 of Stranger Things on the list. 

All titles, whatever the genre, are eligible for the lists — series and films, kids and family, Netflix and licensed.   

This is an important step forward for Netflix, the creators it works with and its members, said Pablo. “People want to understand what success means in a streaming world, and these lists offer the clearest answer to that question in the industry. Most of all, though, we hope our new weekly Top 10 on Netflix will help fans discover new stories and join new conversations— whether it’s understanding your friend’s new found passion for chess, the value of a win or what’s going on with all those “cool cats and kittens,” he said.

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