Netflix pulled back the curtain on Tuesday, releasing viewership data for nearly its entire catalog of original and acquired content.

The streamer says this will be a new biannual report, with the inaugural spreadsheet capturing viewing time for 18,000 titles (or 99% of Netflix's catalog) from January to June 2023. It's an unprecedented move for any streamer, and it comes in the wake of a fierce fight over data transparency led by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA during contract negotiations with the studios this year. While Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos insists the move is not a response to the guilds, the timing certainly raises questions.

However, it's not necessarily surprising that Netflix, of all streamers, is the first to release data on this scale. Netflix has been around much longer and probably has better control over its own data and success measurements than many of its competitors. It has also paved the way for streaming transparency with its weekly top 10 lists, which have provided insight into the platform's most popular titles for years.

While there is valuable information to be found when combing through this treasure trove of data, there are also some stipulations. Netflix chose to disclose hours viewed for each title, rather than “views,” which is the metric it began using this year to rank its top 10 lists. Views are still an estimated number calculated as hours viewed divided by runtime, but it has leveled the playing field for all series and films. Hours watched puts shorter content at a significant disadvantage, while longer series (often dramas) can benefit greatly.

Just like “views,” reporting data on hours viewed also does not provide information on how many accounts completed a title or even engaged with it after the first episode. This is information that all streamers, especially Netflix, use to determine the success of their content.

It is also important to remember that this list only covers the first six months of 2023. This contextualizes the performance of all titles, as, naturally, content released during this period is more likely to gain a larger audience. Of course, this also means that any title released before this year that manages to break through the noise (i.e. Wednesday) is quite impressive.

The value of a title is also directly linked to how much Netflix paid for it, whether original or licensed. The higher the fees, the more views it will likely need to accumulate for the streamer to consider it a success.

That said, here are some highlights from the data.

Shadow and Bone

Netflix

Renewals and cancellations

All of this data provides some insight into Netflix's decisions regarding renewals and cancellations, since the company has long admitted that these decisions are largely based on performance versus cost. Ratings establish a certain audience threshold that would justify a renewal, especially for hour-long, high-budget scripted series. Deadline detailed more of these insights here.

Notably, Shadow and Bone is the most watched English-language scripted series from that period to get the axe. The series had 192 million hours viewed in the first 100 days, which allowed it to rank 26th. At first glance, one might question its cancellation, but the data translates into around 24 million “views” globally. This only represents about 10% of Netflix's global subscriber base, so it's not really surprising that the streamer didn't consider this to be a good enough performance for a high-budget one-hour SVOD series in its debut months.

For reference, XO, Kitty, which also premiered two months later and has essentially half the runtime, managed 200 million hours of viewing. For a half-hour comedy, that's a pretty stellar audience that speaks to the performance versus cost strategy that Netflix employs. It's no surprise that it's getting a second season.

Licensed content versus original content

Netflix has built its business on licensed content, which still proves valuable no matter how much the streamer grows its original library. According to Sarandos, licensed content accounted for about 45% of all viewing on Netflix from January to June, while originals accounted for the other 55%. However, the Top 100 was overwhelmingly dominated by original content.

The Night Agent was the most-watched title with 812 million hours viewed, which is even more impressive considering the 10-episode series premiered in March, roughly halfway through that measurement period. As Netflix pointed out, there's a lot of overlap between the streamer's weekly top 10 lists and this ranking. If it appeared in the Top 10 for more than a week, it's probably at the top of this list. Think: Ginny and Georgia, You, Outer Banks, FUBAR, Love Is Blind It is Beef.

The most viewed licensed title was the K-drama Romance Crash Course, which ranked 16th, with almost 235 million hours viewed. The limited series initially aired on the South Korean channel tvN, arriving on Netflix at the end of March. The first seasons of Manifest It is New Amsterdam were the series acquired in English with the best rating.

Where is Does it suit? Well, season 1 came in 67th place, with 129 million hours viewed, which may seem low, but remember that the series only became available on Netflix on June 17th. All eight seasons available globally are ranked in the top 500, and are likely to rise to the top of those rankings when Netflix releases data for the second half of the year.

Another interesting piece of data to watch in the next semi-annual report will be the performance of some of HBO's licensed content on Netflix. Show how Insecure, band of brothers It is Players they began arriving on the platform in July and, according to Nielsen, apparently found a new life there.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.  (Left to right) India Amarteifio as young Queen Charlotte, Corey Mylchreest as young King George in episode 106 of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.  Cr.  Nick Wall/Netflix © 2023

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story

Nick Wall/Netflix

Series of main general offers

Netflix spent a lot of money to get Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy to start creating content for the service. Several of her shows have been among Netflix's most popular shows of all time, including all of Rhimes's Bridgerton franchise. Murphy's Dahmer: Monster – The story of Jeffrey Dahmer is also there.

Queen Charlotte took the crown in fifth place, grossing half a billion hours viewed in its first two months on the platform — which doesn't even constitute the entire 91-day premiere window that Netflix now measures and reports. The rest of Bridgerton also did well with seasons 1 and 2 each managing over 130 million hours viewed, ranking 57th and 63rd respectively. The audience for Bridgerton was undoubtedly driven Queen Charlottepopularity, as both seasons returned to the Top 10 at that time.

As for Dahmer, things have been a little more complicated since the series debuted in September 2022. Even so, the series reached 211th place with around 64 million hours watched. This is after more than 1 billion hours of viewing accumulated in the first 91 days. That's a pretty strong showing for a series with little gas left in the tank heading into the new year, having already reached nearly half of Netflix's global subscriber base, according to estimated viewership.

However, these aren't the only series that Murphy and Rhimes have championed. The watchmanwhich was already on the Most Popular list using the old methodology, was just above Dahmer, also with 64 million hours viewed, indicating continued interest after its debut last fall. Despite debuting in February 2022 Inventing Anna (which also used to be on the Most Popular list) was still doing heavy lifting in the first half of this year, but not enough to crack the Top 500. At 520, the limited series has racked up 35 million viewing hours.

Murphy and Rhimes have other projects that rank much lower, but enough of their series seem to interest viewers months or years after their debut that these deals haven't been wasted.

Weird stuff has long been seen as the streaming world's ultimate blockbuster version. As, Friends level of ubiquity. But this is the first time that there is data that shows how audiences are interacting with the series outside of each season's premiere window.

Stranger Things 4, which is Netflix's second most popular series of all time, ranked 61st, securing 134 million hours of viewing in the first half of the year. With the latest installment coming in at around 13 hours, it has a significant advantage when it comes to these ratings just because of its insanely long runtime. This translates to about 10 million “views,” which represents about 3% of Netflix’s global subscriber base. A drop in the ocean, but still a strong showing for a TV season that ended in July 2022.

The first season of Weird stuff it was the second most viewed, in 150th place. Again, 78 million hours of viewing for a TV season that premiered over seven years ago is pretty noteworthy.

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