Netflix has shaken up the way we watch television with its original programming series ranging from Emmy-winning “House of Cards” to “Orange is the New Black.”
However, no one really knows how many people are watching these “successful” series.
Don’t plan on finding out any time soon.
Chief content officer Ted Sarandos told reporters at the TV Critics Association (TCAs) press tour Wednesday the streaming service plans to keep those numbers secret for as long as possible.
“It has no reflection on our business in any way,” said Sarandos. “I know it frustrates you, but we’re going to stay away from it for as long as we can.”
According to TheWrap, Sarandos explained it wasn’t necessary for the site to reveal show viewership since they don’t have advertisers like television networks do.
Netflix reports it has a total of over 50 million subscribers in nearly 50 countries.
Knowing that number, it’s easy to see why the media and competing online streaming services and television outlets are anxious to see how many people are tuning into online content.
At the same time, it seems like it would be a difficult task to measure Netflix viewing. It’s not as if shows air at any one given time. The beauty of Netflix is that you watch whenever you want.
While there is surely a subset of diehard bingewatchers, not everyone is tuning in at 12:01 a.m. to stream 13 new episodes of “House of Cards.” Even more aren’t going to watch them straight through. While some may finish a season of “HOC” over the course of several days, others may want to spread out the experience over several weeks.
In some ways, its difficult to ascertain how ratings would even matter if we knew them. Trying to compare viewership on a premiere day for “HOC” to a popular network or cable series like “The Blacklist” or HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is an apples to oranges case. There’s really nothing to compare Netflix viewership against.
For this reason, it makes sense why Netflix may be eager to keep viewership to themselves.
If Netflix wanted to show some sort of viewership, it could easily display a counter on movies and television series showing how many times something was streamed similar to YouTube.
At the end of the day though, I’m not even sure if ratings really matter anymore (other than to advertisers).
We see good shows get cancelled all the time because of poor ratings. Poor ratings have become synonymous with “bad show”; however, I often hear one of two things from viewers after new shows are quickly axed: “That was a show?” or “I didn’t even know that was on the air” which suggests some low-rated shows may be missed by consumers who are fed an over-saturated television market.
Over 20 new shows launched fall 2014. Eight of those were cancelled, and a few others are toss ups to likely be axed.
While all of Netflix’s original series aren’t as hyped and talked about as “OITNB” and “HOC,” the streaming service has yet to cancel one of its shows.
And, though millions of people may not be tuning into the premiere of “House of Cards,” Netflix is revolutionizing the way we watch television regardless.
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