But wait, there's more.

By Nick Romano
January 21, 2020 at 05:19 PM EST

Despite mixed reviews, The Witcher, starring Henry Cavill, proved to be a major ratings success for Netflix — depending on what data you follow.

In the streaming company’s latest letter to the shareholders, released on Tuesday, Netflix put the fantasy series on track to become its “biggest season 1 TV series ever.” The entire first batch of episodes dropped on Dec. 20 and within its first four weeks, drew in 76 million member households, according to Netflix.

To put that in context, 76 million Netflix accounts chose to watch The Witcher within its first four weeks. More than one user attached to the same account could have potentially watched The Witcher multiple times, but Netflix still counts that as one member household. Previously, Netflix recorded an account view as a single user account watching at least 70 percent of just one episode. Now, the methodology has changed.

Katalin Vermes/Netflix

“As we’ve expanded our original content, we’ve been working on how to best share content highlights that demonstrate popularity,” the shareholder letter reads. “Given that we now have titles with widely varying lengths — from short episodes (e.g. Special at around 15 minutes) to long films (e.g. The Highwaymen at 132 minutes) — we believe that reporting households viewing a title based on 70 percent of a single episode of a series or of an entire film, which we have been doing, makes less sense. We are now reporting on households (accounts) that chose to watch a given title.”

By “chose to watch,” they mean an account that watched at least two minutes of a show or a film, “long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.” For The Witcher, that record-breaking figure constitutes 76 million accounts that watched at least two minutes of the show. Some may have watched further, others may have stopped at just two minutes.

Netflix acknowledges this new way of tracking yields a much higher figure than their previous method. For example, Our Planet logged 30 million account views under the 70 percent viewer metric threshold, but 45 million account views with the new metric. But the company’s reasoning is also mentioned: “Our new methodology is similar to the BBC iPlayer in their rankings based on ‘requests’ for the title, ‘most popular’ articles on The New York Times which include those who opened the articles, and YouTube view counts.” In short, this is closer to tracking stats for Internet content. This, as EW previously laid out, is vastly different to how Nielsen records data for television shows. Based on this move, one might even surmise that Netflix views its programming closer to Internet content and less to television and film.

Additional figures shared by Netflix in the letter are as follows:

  • 54 million accounts will choose to watch YOU season 2 in its first four weeks.
  • 21 million accounts chose to watch The Crown season 3 in its first four weeks.
  • A total of 73 million accounts chose to watch The Crown since the series premiered on Netflix in 2016.
  • 83 million accounts watched Michael Bay’s 6 Underground in its first four weeks.
  • 40 million accounts watch the Oscar-nominated animated film Klaus in its first 28 days.

Meanwhile, The Witcher is already set for a second season and YOU is already set for a third.

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