The Witcher, despite its divisive reviews, is a hit for Netflix — but its numbers can’t really be compared to past releases of data from the company thanks to a change in the way the streaming giant measures viewership.
Netflix, in announcing its fourth-quarter earnings, revealed viewership for recent TV launches The Witcher as well as new seasons of the hits The Crown and Lifetime rescue You. But it was Henry Cavill-led The Witcher that broke TV viewership records. The streamer on Tuesday said The Witcher is tracking to be its biggest season one TV series launch ever. Through four weeks of release, 76 million member households watched the fantasy drama. (The series was renewed for a second season ahead of its debut.)
Netflix, however, has changed the way it reports a “view.” Previously, the company counted a view as a member account watching at least 70 percent of one episode of a series or 70 percent of a feature film. Now, it is touting that viewers “chose to watch” a given title, meaning that member watched for as little as two minutes — “long enough to indicate the choice was intentional,” per a footnote in the earnings report. Under that measurement, the streamer says The Witcher is on track to have the biggest first season ever for a Netflix original.
The new metric is now more akin to views on a YouTube video, which indicate in most cases only a small portion of a given piece of content’s running time, and are even farther away from the average audience measure for traditional TV.
“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,” the company notes in its earnings report. “This way, short and long titles are treated equally, leveling the playing field for all types of our content including interactive content, which has no fixed length.”…….read more