Friday 23 August 2019

Netflix exploring sharing more viewing figures with public

The streaming service is famously secretive about its data.

Netflix (Netflix)
Netflix (Netflix)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Netflix is looking at sharing more data about viewing figures with the public, the streaming service’s director of public policy in the UK has said.

The platform has been notoriously secretive about how many people watch the shows and films it offers, only sporadically and selectively touting particularly successful projects.

Last week, director Ava DuVernay said Netflix had told her more than 23 million accounts worldwide have watched her series about the Central Park Five, When They See Us.

It was later announced that in the UK and Ireland, the series was in the top two most-watched series on the platform following its launch, beaten only by Black Mirror.

The service also recently said more than 30 million accounts worldwide watched the Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler film Murder Mystery in its first three days of release, giving it the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix film.

Addressing Netflix’s reticence to share data on viewers, Benjamin King told the House Of Lords’ communication committee: “We are certainly looking at sharing more data with creatives and the public.

“We release a top 10 list of shows on a regular basis in the UK, it’s the first time we have done that anywhere, and it’s been interesting to see what the impact of sharing that data has been.”

Anne Mensah, vice president of original series, added: “We do share information with creatives and producers as and when they want it.

“I know a number of producers that we have just recently discussed data with.”

Mr King also told the committee that Netflix is committing to growth in the UK, saying: “This is something of an inflection point for Netflix in the UK.”

He said a year ago there was only 15 or 20 employees in the London office, but there are now around 130.

He added: “Our ambition is to make a meaningful and immeasurable contribution to the creative industries here and their long term sustainability.”

Ms Mensah said Netflix was “committed to making shows that reflect British culture”, adding that they appeal to a global audience.

She said: “Specificity makes for a great show,” citing Ricky Gervais’ Show After Life – which was made in the UK by wholly UK talent, but has a worldwide audience.

Discussing Netflix’s willingness to work with UK production companies, Ms Mensah said: “What we are looking for is great shows for our service, wherever they come from. I hope we will always be an open door.”

Questioned about the BBC’s request to keep shows on iPlayer for 12 months, and whether that would disincentivise Netflix from collaborating with the corporation, she said: “If they want to extend the rights on the service, that is their prerogative.

Mr King added: “It’s a matter for the BBC and the producers they want to work with.

“I don’t think it’s a matter for us to have a specific opinion on it, we hope the BBC is successful in identifying new ways to be a public service broadcaster.”

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