Over the past year, Netflix has opened up more about how many people watch their original content.
Although we don’t receive rating data for each content, Netflix now shows which movies and TV shows are the most popular, primarily through the top 10 service rankings when you go watch something.
For example, at the time of writing, you is the number four most viewed in the UK, Sex education is number one (obviously), The prodigy is the number four in the movies and A fall from grace is the number three in the movies.
These only show how popular something is on that particular day, but Netflix has released even the best dozens overall, like the most viewed movies and TV shows of 2019.
From time to time, the streaming giant will release specific visualization figures, although these are often greeted by cynicism as they have been so watched in the past on what has been done well on Netflix.
Related: What Netflix ratings really mean for your favorite shows
In particular, this has happened with Murder Mystery last year which recorded the biggest opening weekend of a Netflix movie ever.
The way Netflix initially measured these was that each account must have watched at least 70% of the content, whether it was a movie or a single episode of a TV show, and that it only counted one view per account.
However, the company has now made a major change to that metric and will do nothing to reduce cynicism compared to the rankings.
In a letter from Netflix to shareholders, it is explained that the streaming giant has worked on the best way to “share featured content that demonstrates popularity.”
“Since we now have titles with very different lengths – from short episodes (e.g. Special about 15 minutes) for long films (e.g. The Highwaymen at 132 minutes), we believe that bringing families back to see a title based on 70% of a single episode of a series or an entire film, which we made, makes less sense, “says the letter.
So now the display data is based on “families (accounts)” who have chosen to watch a certain title “, and the measure is that” they have chosen to watch and have watched for at least two minutes “.
Netflix claims that this indicates that “the choice was intentional” and states that it is similar to the BBC iPlayer rankings on “requests” for a specific title, “most popular” articles on the New York Times and YouTube counts the views.
“This way, short and long titles are treated the same way, leveling the playing field for all types of content, including interactive content, which does not have a fixed length,” he says.
In a sense, we have the approach that if you’ve watched two minutes of something, (probably) it’s not just Netflix that automatically plays something and that you intentionally decided to watch it. Or that you called him, so to speak, sitting on the remote control.
But unlike the 70% rule, they don’t discount people who turned off after 20 minutes. or 10 minutes. Or 2 minutes and a second.
With the new metric, 6 underground it was viewed by 83 million accounts in its first four weeks. It’s no surprise that many have chosen to watch a new Michael Bay movie starring Ryan Reynolds, but there is an equal probability that many of them have turned off after the explosive 20-minute opening.
At least making 70% of any data content seen as a criterion is a strong indicator that people would watch something to the end. After all, would you really put out a two-hour movie if you had 84 minutes already?
It’s also not clear how to watch two minutes of a 15-minute episode of Special it is somewhat more representative of the 10 and a half minute viewing of an episode.
The change will certainly not help Netflix in terms of people’s cynicism about ratings, especially as a case study they used to show how the new metric drastically changes the display figures.
Under the old system, 33 million families watched Our planet, but now with the new metric, 45 million families have seen it. On average, it increases ratings for Netflix titles by 35%.
This will do nothing to change the belief that Netflix only promotes things that are good, because they seem to have changed the system to be more positive towards their ratings.
It is absolutely a prerogative of Netflix to choose which classifications they reveal as we imagine that most studios, especially when it comes to films, would prefer that the box offices did not reveal which of their films on the flop.
But if Netflix wants its ratings to be taken seriously by even the most cynical of viewers, then it may have to start revealing them all, and not just the successful ones.
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