Netflix viewing metrics remain locked away somewhere in the streaming company’s vault, despite efforts to unravel the mystery of how its programming performs. That’s not the case with the BBC.
In a speech delivered at the Media & Telecoms Conference on Thursday, BBC Director-General Tony Hall said an “extraordinary number” of people watched the season 1 finale of Bodyguard in the U.K. over the course of a month, a number that easily bests The Crown‘s collective ratings across 17 months.
“I mentioned the Bodyguard finale reaching 17 million viewers. That was in one month,” Hall said. “Our data suggests The Crown reached 7 million users in 17 months.”
A representative for the BBC told The Guardian that these numbers come from “a nationally representative survey commissioned by the corporation last year, which asked Britons whether they had watched at least 15 minutes of an episode of The Crown.”
Bodyguard aired on BBC in the U.K. and averaged more than 10.4 million viewers before Netflix picked it up to stream outside the country. Netflix retains worldwide distribution rights on The Crown.
Netflix did not immediately have an official statement when contacted by EW, but the company previously stated that Bodyguard, as well as Baby and The Protector, were “each enjoyed by over 10 million member households in their first four weeks.” That, according to Netflix at the time, was a global figure.
In December of 2017, Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings, as reported by AdWeek, released independently conducted viewing stats on The Crown, stating 3 million U.S. viewers watched the season 2 premiere episode within its first three days. Netflix, however, seems to tally viewer data differently than Nielsen; the streaming company counts one user view for a series if 70 percent of just one episode is watched by a single account. Multiple individuals from the same account may view the same show multiple times, but that view is still counted as one.
The Crown, which reportedly costs hundreds of millions to produce, still seems like a priority for Netflix following multiple Golden Globe and Emmy wins. Newly minted Oscar winner Olivia Coleman (The Favourite) will now lead the cast of season 3 as Queen Elizabeth II opposite Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.
Madden, who played a war veteran assigned to protect Home Secretary Julia Montague, confirmed in November that there are talks commencing for a potential second season of Bodyguard.
Hall cited these U.K. metrics in emphasizing the BBC’s mission in this new era of streaming-focused entertainment.
“The landscape in which we operate has changed beyond all recognition over the past decade. But our regulation has stayed largely the same,” he said. “We are operating a linear framework in an on-demand world.”