This Show Topped Netflix Viewership Earlier This Year—And It Might Not Be What You Think

Published 7 months ago
By Forbes | Britney Nguyen
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TOPLINE

“The Night Agent” was the most viewed title on Netflix during the first half of 2023, the company announced Tuesday, giving its first sweeping report on viewership numbers beyond its weekly Top 10 list following demands from viewers and Hollywood writers for more transparency.

KEY FACTS

“The Night Agent,” which came out on March 23, came out on top with 812.1 million hours viewed between January and June of this year.

Season two of “Ginny & Georgia,” season one of Korean drama “The Glory,” season one of “Wednesday” and “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” rounded out the top five shows in terms of viewing hours during the first half of 2023.

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The report, called “What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report,” was presented as a simple spreadsheet with four columns, showing the title, the release date, whether the title was available worldwide and the viewing hours, and is the first time Netflix is sharing viewership details after years of declining to share them with anyone, Bloomberg reported.

Over 60% of Netflix original titles released during the first half of this year made the platform’s weekly Top 10 lists, which show the 10 most viewed shows and films of the week, but not viewership numbers, Netflix said, showing that the platform’s originals are popular among viewers as writers for streaming services demand additional residuals if their shows are successful.

Non-English titles generated 30% of all viewing hours globally, the company said, and Netflix original titles released before this year appeared to have “staying power,” Netflix said, such as “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which came out in October 2022, but generated 80 million viewing hours in the first half of 2023.

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Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told reporters the lack of transparency over viewership data caused “mistrust over time” with writers and other creatives, and that people have asked for more details on what audiences are watching “over the last 16 years of streaming.”

TANGENT

Viewership numbers could explain why Netflix decides to cancel shows, as it has been previously reported the streaming service renews or cancels shows based on viewership and other data points, including how many accounts watch only one episode of a series, how many subscribers finish an entire season and the total amount of subscribers who watch a series.

KEY BACKGROUND

Hollywood writers launched a five-month strike that started this summer, demanding more compensation from streaming platforms through higher wage floors, the regulation of mini-rooms (or smaller writers rooms that pay less), additional money from streaming residuals and transparency over viewership for their shows, the Wall Street Journal reported. Writers, studios and streamers reached a tentative agreement in September that included a success-based residual in which writers for TV series and films on streaming services can receive a bonus if 20% or more of a streaming service’s U.S.-based subscribers watch the show within three months of its release, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

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