Netflix is planning to release a weekly list of its most popular UK titles, as part of a new experiment.
The streaming giant has always been famously closely guarded about its viewing figures, but has been gradually playing with ways to use that data to its own ends. It has recently begun to release statistics for key new titles, mostly films, as it looks to build on Roma’s success at the Oscars and position itself as a major, established player in the feature film business.
Triple Frontier, starring Ben Affleck and directed by J.C. Chandor, for example, has been watched by over 52 million member households in its first four weeks on Netflix. The Highwaymen (starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as two lawmen that bring Bonnie and Clyde to justice) is on track to being watched by over 40 million member households in its first month. Documentary feature FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened has been watched by over 20 million member households in its first month on Netflix.
In TV series, Our Planet, Netflix’s most ambitious entry into the popular nature documentary genre, is “off to a strong start and is tracking to be one of our most successful global documentary series launches yet”, with over 25 million member households projected to watch in the first month of release. The Umbrella Academy, based on the comic book by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, which has been watched by 45 million member households in its first four weeks on service and has been renewed for a second season.
All of these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt: Netflix’s count for a “viewer” is anyone who completes at least 70 per cent of one episode of a TV series or 70 per cent of a film – an indication, perhaps, of how much time people typically spend watching a single title on Netflix, or of how value attention spans have become in a competitive online age.
Netflix will be building on that kind of insight, though, to try showing people what other users are currently watching. This coming quarter, it will be running a test in the UK by releasing a weekly top 10 list of the most popular content on its service across various programming categories.
“For those who want to watch what others are watching, this may make choosing titles even easier,” says Netflix. “After a few months we’ll decide whether to end or expand the test.”