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Netflix has changed

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Netflix has unveiled a new top 10 portal for showing off the viewership stats for its biggest shows – finally following through on its slow, steady journey towards transparency around its numbers.

top10Netflix.com is a whole new website for tracking the top 10 shows or films on the Netflix platform, showing off the total hours viewed, as well as the number of weeks a title was in the top 10. You can also split into English vs Non-English titles, and view by country, allowing you to personalize your search to what’s been high-profile in your area.

“We think engagement as measured by hours viewed is a slightly better indicator of the overall success of our titles and member satisfaction,” Netflix bosses said in a recent letter to shareholders. “It also matches how outside services measure TV viewing and gives proper credit to rewatching.”

It’s… a busy website, with lists of titles and the nations where they’ve been best received. And we can’t help but feel that many users will find such a portal superfluous. Anyone who’s had an account for a few years is already being catered content at the behest of their previous watching habits, with a row of ‘Top 10’ titles in their own region. What need then, of this dedicated, slightly flashy site?

As we’ve seen, top 10 lists can be a bit weird to look at. They show viewer interest in aggregate, meaning any one user is likely to have watched at least of them, but hardly any will have watched all of them. It’s a very different overview from the usual Netflix experience, which is all about pushing you towards content the algorithm expects you’ll like.

The move makes sense Netflix’s trajectory over the past year. The streaming service has become slowly less cagey about its viewer stats, pulling back the veil on its workings.

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Some reservation around sharing stats is understandable – it can be hard to justify a show’s cancellation if you’re inviting fans to see its numbers. And, as long as Netflix maintains an element of secrecy around how it tracks a ‘successful’ title, it can manipulate those numbers however it likes.

It’s a very different picture these days, though. Rather than focusing on viewers who pass the two-minute mark, top10Netflix focuses on total hours viewed. Netflix is now at a scale where those numbers are dizzying – Squid Game alone has been watched 1.6 billion hours, which equates to 182,000 years worth of engagement.

Netflix has realised the worth of flexing its muscles, rather than quietly celebrating its successes. It now operates in a market with countless competitors launching every year – not just Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus, but also Apple TV Plus, Peacock, Paramount Plus, and more. 

The latest season of The Morning Show even contains the launch of a fictional ‘UBA+’ service at the drama’s massive media giant, showing that even the content on those platforms is wising up to the state of the market around it. And it does make business sense for Netflix to flaunt its numbers, and bolster its image, at a time when many different companies are nipping at Netflix’s heels.

Netflix finally embraces its scale

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For years, the unofficial motto of Netflix – ‘Netflix and chill’ – has matched the appearance of the company as a relaxed alternative to other viewing options.

Unlike Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV, which are still littered with rent/buy purchasing options, or Hulu, which forces interrupting ads even on paying subscribers, Netflix has been offering a seamless experience for years – one that focuses on the content and nothing else, even auto-starting episodes to reduce the friction of selecting a new one.

But Netflix is now leaning into its multiplex ambitions – winning awards, launching films in movie theaters, even buying cinemas for a bigger, grander Netflix operation. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos even had to shut down rumors that the company was buying a whole movie theater chain.

This latest website is a sign of Netflix’s scale, and ambition. It boasts of incredible viewership, at a time when Apple TV Plus is still too hesitant to publicly release its figures. It shows a subscriber base in thrall to viral shows, like Squid Game, crossing even language barriers to become global hits.

Netflix has such confidence in its own success, that despite a drop-off in US subscribers during the pandemic, CEO Reed Hastings can describe it as “short term choppiness” for a “smooth as silk” operation. Netflix’s execs may well believe that their company is too big to fail at this point. At the very least, it befits Netflix’s status to act as if that’s the case.

  • These are the best Netflix movies to watch right now 

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